Forty-two years ago, Anbarassuu Subramaniam took a bus from his office at Woodlands to the old National Stadium daily and his excitement grew as he got closer and closer to the brand new sports arena at Kallang, contemplating watching the track and field events of the 7th South-east Asian Peninsular Games.
Now 63, the Malaysian has again returned to Singapore to catch the athletics competition at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games.
Once a member of the Malaysian Royal Navy, Anbarassuu says the magnificent new National Stadium at the Sports Hub is a testament to how much Singapore has advanced as a country.
"Singapore used to focus so much on academics, not so much on sports," said Anbarassuu, who is an athletics coach.
"Now there's the Sports Hub, so it seems you're more into sports. The facilities are good and so is the crowd. The atmosphere is amazing."
Singing similar praises was Indonesian guide Dio Prambudi, who was at the National Stadium on Wednesday to watch countryman Agus Prayogo win the men's 10,000m race.
"If I had to compare it with 2011, this is better," said the 25-year-old, referring to the 2011 Games in Indonesia.
"It is convenient to travel to the stadium from the hotel where I am staying and the stadium is awesome."
Malaysians Sabrina Abu Bakar and Julia Muryona have been driving to and from Johor Baru to watch the hockey and football matches, and they hardly mind.
"We just want to support our team," said Julia, 38.
"Hockey has been good for us and football hasn't, but it's okay because we just come here to support the teams."
Sabrina, 31, has signed up to be a volunteer at the next Games, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.
Both Sabrina and Julia are confident Malaysia will do a good job as hosts.
Said Julia: "The facilities, including transportation, in Singapore have been very good, but I think Malaysia is well prepared, too.
"Most of the sports will be held at the same venue, so it will be convenient for people to get around."
Anbarassuu agreed and added that the 2017 Games in Malaysia would be "better" as they have more experience. Malaysia have hosted the biennial multi-sport event five times, and held the Commonwealth Games in 1998, while the Republic has now organised it four times.
"We will also achieve better results, because we are the hosts," said the avid track-and-field fan, his eyes glued to the big screen as Singapore's Dipna Lim-Prasad received the silver medal for the women's 400m hurdles event.
"Hosts will always do better, just like how Singapore is doing so well now."
This article was first published on June 12, 2015.
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