With my bare feet, I stepped onto the track in Munich's Olympiastadion and headed towards the start point for my 10,000m heat.
The other runners stared at me, wondering if I was either crazy or just plain poor to turn up with no footwear. A few thought I was from a poverty-stricken part of India.
Even the race officials were worried. One came up to me - then just a slender 23-year-old standing at 1.68m - and said: "You forgot your shoes! Don't worry, we'll wait for you to go back and grab them."
Little did they know I was already in my element. When I first ran at age 17, I could not afford shoes and ran barefoot.
After many rounds at MacRitchie Reservoir, I soon enjoyed the feeling.
In my youth, I also worked at the Singapore Polo Club and took care of the horses. To build up my stamina, I ran alongside them regularly.
OLYMPIC PARTICIPATION: Munich 1972, Athletics (59th in 5,000m, 45th in 10,000m)
I went on to clock 31min 59.2sec. I broke my own national record (32:18.8) and also became the first Singaporean runner to go below 32 minutes in the 10,000m.
Moments after I crossed the finish line, my name was announced on the loudspeakers and I was congratulated on breaking the national record.
I received a certificate, on the spot, recognising my achievement and I still keep it until this very day.
At the Olympic Village, adidas and Puma approached me. They wanted to sponsor my shoes and sportswear. I accepted both but only to give the products to a local charity.
I achieved what I came to do in the Olympics - going below 32 minutes. I was also happy with the national record.
But growing up, I could not have imagined myself becoming Singapore's first long-distance runner in the Olympics.
Football was actually my first love and that was where my passion was. However, I eventually decided to focus fully on running.
I took the 5,000m silver and 10,000m gold at the 1971 Kuala Lumpur Seap (South-east Asia Peninsular Games) Games, was crowned 1971's Sportsman of the Year, and enjoyed a memorable Munich Games.
Looking back now, I hold no regrets about making the switch to running.