For his entire competitive career, U. K. Shyam chased the elusive goal of being South-east Asia's fastest man.
But on the day he had a good shot at being crowned Asia's fastest - albeit in a Masters category - on the same ground that holds special memories, "unforeseen" events kept the former national sprinter from showing up.
Absent yesterday for the men's 100m (35-39) final at the Asia Masters Athletics Championships, he told The Straits Times that he had last-minute personal matters to attend to.
"I was going to rush down," he said.
"But I was told the programme was on schedule and that would mean I would barely have time to warm up."
Not that he did not keep a keen eye on the results. Already aware that the times clocked at the final were significantly slower when contacted, he rued the wasted opportunity to take gold at the National Stadium.
Sri Lanka's B.Y. Rohana was first in 11.63sec, with India's Anil Kumar (11.64sec) and Manoj Manoj (11.64sec) finishing joint second.
Shyam had qualified second fastest for the final in 11.54sec. His time of 11.48sec clocked in the heats was also the fastest overall.
The Hwa Chong Institution teacher, who turns 40 in July, said: "I wasn't going hard yesterday (in the semi-finals). It's quite a pity.
"I didn't really train much because I didn't even know I was going to compete."
Having been convinced by local athletics legends C. Kunalan and Glory Barnabas to give the competition a go, Shyam threw his name in after the deadline for registration had been closed for more than a week.
Singapore Athletics accepted his late entry as well as a few others.
Several officials had showed up yesterday afternoon to see Shyam in action. He still holds the national record of 10.37sec in the century sprint, clocked on two separate occasions in 2001.
So it was no wonder that his absence disappointed some.
He said: "I guess the expectations at the Masters level are different. I did it as a meet for fun, just for the beauty of running in a beautiful stadium.
"I was a bit shy to be competing because I'm not clocking great times. But it's absolutely very meaningful on a personal level to have had the chance to run at the National Stadium."