In what will be a crucial year for athletics in Singapore, the sport received a big boost yesterday ahead of June's SEA Games with a new home to call its own.
The Kallang Practice Track has been refurbished at a cost of $4 million. Improvements include a new International Association of Athletics Federations Grade 1 synthetic track, a strength-and-conditioning and physiotherapy facility as well as biometric sensors at the long jump and triple jump areas.
The venue will now be called the Home of Athletics (HOA) and while it will be the main high-performance facility for the country's elite track and field athletes, it will also be open to the public.
Said Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin: "We would like to see recreational athletes side by side with our elite squads, competing and drawing inspiration from one another."
Plans to add 200 tiered seats and an athletes' lounge will be rolled out later this year.
Said Tang Weng Fei, president of the rebranded Singapore Athletics (SA) at yesterday's official launch: "This is an exciting period for us. A home means we can build a cohesive and family-oriented system.
"We are looking forward to bringing our sport to the next level."
The HOA will host 80 per cent of the SA's local competitions, with the 77th Singapore Open Track and Field Championship from March 28-29 the first major event.
The two-day meet is an important stepping stone for the national athletes who are in their final phase of preparations for the June 5-16 Games.
Tang said all throw events for the biennial Games will be held at the National Stadium at the Sports Hub, ending speculation that the hammer, shot put, discus and javelin competitions might be conducted separately at the HOA to protect the pitch.
Meanwhile, the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee announced that Category 1 and 2 tickets for the opening ceremony on June 5 have been sold out, with limited Category 3 tickets remaining.
There will be 36 sports at the Games and 18 of them, including athletics, will be free to spectators.
Ticketed sports like swimming, fencing, cuesports and equestrian are almost sold out.
This article was first published on March 15, 2015.
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