Crowds throng the Hub - many try their hand at different sports

Crowds throng the Hub - many try their hand at different sports
The height of the rock-climbing wall within the Kallang Wave Mall at the new Sports Hub didn’t put off the children, who took to it with vigour and delight during the open house yesterday.

After a slow start, the crowds flocked to the new $1.3 billion Sports Hub in their thousands yesterday on the second day of its two-day open house.

Many tried their hand at the different sports on offer at the 35ha site in Kallang.

Coaches were on hand to help them test their skills at the likes of table tennis, boxing, judo and badminton.

Some dropped by to try to get a glimpse of the new 55,000-seater National Stadium.

"It reminds me of (England's national stadium) Wembley, especially with the roof," said IT consultant Terence Chew, 42, impressed by the view. Others like Mr Edvan Lee, 38, had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spar with national players.

The sales manager, watched by his wife and two young sons, pulled on boxing gloves for the first time as he took lessons from former national champion and Olympian Syed Abdul Kadir, 66.

"I just did what I usually see on television and threw a few punches," he said, laughing.

"(The trip to the Sports Hub) is more to let my sons experience the different kinds of sports like boxing and archery rather than just watching them on television."

Mr Kadir said that organising more such events would help introduce children to sport.

Although the site opened for visitors to walk around on Friday, yesterday was the first time that the Sports Hub opened all its facilities to the public.

Organisers estimated that around 30,000 people passed through the gates yesterday alone. They included Singaporeans of all ages and backgrounds.

From tomorrow until the end of July, the sporting arena - including tours of the new stadium with its retractable roof - will be free for the public.

Construction of the Sports Hub, which has replaced the former National Stadium, began in 2010 though financial concerns pushed back its completion date several times.

At the OCBC Aquatic Centre, retired poultry farmer See Ah Sai, 67, watched a synchronised swimming performance by Sports Singapore.

"It's something you don't often get to watch," said Mr See. "The Sports Hub is big. You just have to come to one place and you can watch so many things."

Pilot Sanjeev Upadhiah, 34, was thrilled to see a water polo game for the first time with his young son.

"This will definitely create more interest in sport," he said.

Despite initial concerns that high visitor numbers could clog nearby roads with motorists, traffic remained smooth throughout the day on nearby roads - even with another 37,000 people estimated to attend three concerts last night at the National Stadium and the adjacent Singapore Indoor Stadium and Kallang Theatre.

Traffic, however, slowed slightly later at night as concert-goers were leaving the area, but the police and road marshals were on hand to help ease the flow.

A new parking system for major events at the Sports Hub, requiring motorists to buy day-long parking tickets in advance online, appeared to be working.

Many visitors The Sunday Times spoke to said that they had taken the MRT.

Retiree Magdalene Fones, 79, who travelled from Kovan with her husband, said: "We were thinking of somewhere new to go for a day out. The stadium is beautiful, with an air-conditioned mall beside it. I'm so proud of Singapore."

This article was first published on June 29, 2014.
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