The Games are back: Singapore opens its doors to South-east Asia's finest athletes

After 22 years, Singapore once again opens its doors to South-east Asia's finest athletes for the 28th SEA Games.

Time for a new generation to inspire

Like any 11-year-old, Gary Tan loved his superheroes. For him, it was He-Man and the Transformers. That was until he discovered his own breed of supermen.

In the 1989 SEA Games gold medal-winning 4x100 metres medley relay team of David Lim, Ang Peng Siong, Tan V-Meng and Ng Yue Meng, he found his own fantastic four. He vowed that he too would win SEA Games swimming gold. In 2001, the future Olympian kept his promise, winning the first of six Games golds.

Nearly two decades earlier, a 10-year-old's life would change forever after he spent his school holidays following his dad from venue to venue during the 1973 South-east Asian Peninsular Games in Singapore.

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1973: Lifetime of memories for this 'kampung boy' writer

1973. It was a time when foreign talent was unheard of. And overseas training still a novelty. When four-room Housing Board flats averaged $15,000 and mid-sized saloon cars much less.

It was also the year when Singapore first opened its doors to an international multi-sports event - the 7th South-east Asian Peninsular Games. The new National Stadium laid out the red carpet for 1,600 competitors from seven countries. In the next eight days, they crossed swords in 16 sports.

The modern stadium was a dream venue to go faster, higher and stronger. Built at a cost of $32 million, it could seat 55,000 and had first-class facilities. Lush football pitch, tick. Eight-lane tartan running track, tick. Auditorium, tick. Weights room, tick. State-of-the-art electronic scoreboards, tick. And many more.

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1983: Ten golds turn Singapore Games into Sng Games

Singing in the rain was the four-word headline on the front page of The Straits Times as the slippery skies cruelly opened up to almost mar President C.V. Devan Nair declaring open the 12th SEA Games at the National Stadium on May 28, 1983.

What looked more like the "Umbrella Games" got under way after an hour's delay in front of 35,000 (much less than the expected 60,000) spirited Singaporeans. And Alan Hubbard poignantly described the wettest-ever opening ceremony with these words, "the only dampness most of us were aware of was around the eyes".

It was, in accordance to the renewed alphabetical rotation of hosting duties, Brunei's turn. But because it was preparing for its independence from Britain, Singapore took over, with the Games Village extraordinarily set at the Nanyang Technological Institute in Jurong - present-day NTU.

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1993: Not even Yeo's feats erased the anguish of Lions' loss

June 17, 1993 is a night I will never forget. It was when I saw grown men cry, a night when I discovered just how powerful and wonderful sport can be.

The SEA Games football semi-final match between Singapore and Myanmar was the event of the 1993 Singapore SEA Games.

Young swimmer Joscelin Yeo may have been making waves at the Toa Payoh swimming pool, but Kallang was definitely the place to be.

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Daily highlights to look out for

We sum up the events to look out for throughout the Games.

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Videos: All pumped up for Singapore

Run faster. Punch harder. Last longer.

With the clock ticking down to the SEA Games, Team Singapore athletes are steeling themselves – physically and mentally – for the task ahead.

The Straits Times documented the training sessions of seven of these athletes, just weeks before the June 5-16 games.

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10 athletes to watch

LITERALLY and metaphorically, he is following in his father's footsteps. As he makes his SEA Games debut next week, Irfan Fandi, 17, finally has a chance to make a name for himself.

His father, Fandi Ahmad, played in nine SEA Games and bagged six medals - three silvers and three bronzes, so Irfan has a lot of catching up to do.

Having been named in a list of the top 40 young talents in world football by The Guardian, Irfan certainly has what it takes.

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