10 Jul 2007 - May and her team from the Sports Museum hosted members of the Museum Roundtable on a farewell tour of the National Stadium (see photos). We walked the stadium and they took turns to tell us stories including some ghostly highlights. The Stadium, which was first opened in 1973, was finally officialy closed to the public with a send-off ceremony on 30 June 2007.
Our first Grand Prix (1962)
I could imagine the scene that May recounted in which C. Kunalan persisted despite flames from overflowing fuel of the burning torch (due to overenthusiastic organisers) and ran the track and climbed the stadium steps to light the stadium's cauldron in 1973 (he has burn marks still), I saw Uncle Choo's photo in the Coach of the Year showcase, Tan Howe Liang's medal from the Rome olympics (1960) with its ornamental metal chain, and learnt of the fierce passion of the contractor who built the stadium despite the loss which began when pilings sank into the marine clay, and the tears of his brother at the farewell ceremony.
I remembered a National Day celebration from the late 70's that I enjoyed as a kid, the National Lesiure bike rally in 1999 that had cyclists ride down to National Stadium from stadiums all around Singapore, the rest points during round island cycles, the bend in the stadium where we screamed our lungs out to propel SAJC's victorious relay runners (one of them penned her thoughts in Today), my numerous weekly trips to the physiotherapy department, the myriad of exhilirating experiences of the Malaysia Cup (I recounted a few during the tour) especially the electric response to the surprise visit of the much loved President Wee during a Singapore-Kelantan match.
Kakis from Sentosa peek out of the cauldron
A few of us climbed into the cauldron for the unique view and wistfully took the last few photos. I was surprised at the memories that were stirring in my head in the bus on the way back. So many things can't be around forever but despite decades of practise, I am obviously not used to that yet.
I will have to pen some thoughts later.
"Seeing the National Stadium inside out," by Tym. yesterday.sg, 08 Nov 2006.