Singapore national hurdler Zaki Sapari had dreamed of racing on home soil and winning Singapore's first-ever gold medal in the men's 400m hurdles event.
But he was instead mourned as the countdown to next year's SEA Games began on Saturday, a day after he died in a motorcycle accident at the age of 22.
The full-time national serviceman had been riding along Mandai Road on Friday evening when he collided with a lorry. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
The national junior record-holder in the men's 400m hurdles with a time of 53.51sec, Zaki had seemed destined to one day rewrite Seah Soo Lye's senior mark of 52.30 set almost 31 years ago.
Singapore Athletic Association president Tang Weng Fei paid tribute to the hurdler at the SEA Games launch event held at Gardens by the Bay on Saturday.