National stadium in 'athletics mode'

National stadium in 'athletics mode'

Just three weeks after hosting the biggest boyband in the world, the National Stadium will now see over 300 athletes from Singapore and around the region compete at the 77th Singapore Open Track and Field Championships this weekend.

UK boyband One Direction's concert on March 11 was attended by 33,000 screaming fans and, although a much smaller crowd is expected at the two-day athletics meet, the Sports Hub's (above) speedy transformation has been remarkable.

"By mid-March, the Sports Hub already got the stadium in 'athletics mode', well within the time we expected," said Singapore Athletics general manager Yazeen Buhari yesterday.

"Since then, our Team Singapore athletes have been able to have three full training sessions at the venue."

The main difference of the stadium in "athletics mode" is that the retractable seats are moved all the way back, revealing the full width of the top-grade Mondo track as well other track and field facilities like the long jump sand pit.

Yazeen said that officials from Hong Kong, who conducted a technical delegates' inspection of the stadium yesterday morning, were hugely impressed with the facility, and added that the Singapore Open was timely as a test event ahead of June's South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

When The New Paper paid a visit yesterday evening, Belgian photo-finish specialists TimeTronics were busy setting up and testing their equipment, which will also be used at the SEA Games.

Former national sprinter Hamkah Afiq, who won a silver medal in the 200m event the last time Singapore hosted the SEA Games in 1993, was busy going through the motions as a pundit at the finish line, a role which he will also take on in June.

Said Yazeen: "All things considered, it'll be a new experience for our athletes. You can really tell some of them are really pumped up."


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