Team Singapore fans celebrate their team winning the gold medal (Photo credit: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee / Action Images via Reuters)
The sight of sportsmen and women reaching new heights in their sport, breaking records, winning gold medals and simply giving their all, always inspires fans.
But what has made this 28th SEA Games different from Team Singapore’s competitors has been that the inspiration has also been transmitted the other way.
At venues across Singapore and at the whole range of sports, the Republic’s best have been cheered on by passionate crowds - and the ‘home ground factor’ certainly left an unforgettable impression for those who enjoyed success in the past fortnight.
For silver medal winning Team Singapore men's team hockey captain Enrico Marican, the electric atmosphere at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium for Saturday’s final against Malaysia was a memory he will cherish.
"I could feel all the fans behind us - they were behind us from the first minute and they were going absolutely crazy. It was amazing,” he said.
"It's something I'll never forget”.
Joseph Schooling leaves the Games with nine gold medals from nine events and he wanted his adoring supporters to know he appreciated the roars and applause.
Unlike with this success at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland and the Asian Games in South Korea, Schooling had an entire arena cheering for him.
“I have not experienced anything like this and I didn’t expect anything like this, it has been nuts and it exceeds what I ever dreamed of. Thank you everyone for coming down and supporting us,” said the swimmer who turned 20 on Tuesday and received a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ at the National Stadium during the closing ceremony.
Sprinter Shanti Pereira, who won two medals on the track, including gold in the 200 metres, ending a 42 year drought for a sprinting gold for Singapore, the huge noise when she was introduced to the crowd before her races was a powerful moment.
“It has been amazing. When they announced Singapore in the stadium and the entire stadium, everyone was cheering, it was amazing,” she said.
One of the most intense - and noisiest - atmospheres in the entire Games came for the Netball final between Singapore and Malaysia which ended in a thrilling victory for the team in red.
Team Singapore’s netball head coach Ruth Aitken may be a native of New Zealand but that didn’t stop her being moved by the immense support for the team.
“The crowd was magnificent, it was just wonderful. We have been blessed all week with some fantastic crowd support and I think today it really did help to get us over the line. Thank you to the eighth player!” she said after the win.
Shooter Charmaine Soh, who showed her appreciation throughout the game with frequent applause for the fans, said it was during the moments of weakness that the impact of the supporters was felt most.
“There were times when we were down, our spirit was down but the crowd never stopped cheering for us and that motivated us so much,” she said.
Team Singapore fans applaud the team after the match (Photo Credit: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee / Action Images via Reuters)
Even in the supposedly less popular sports, such as squash, there were lines of fans patiently waiting to get in to the venues. Silver medal team member Bryan Koh said that sight made him realise that his sport was still very much alive and kicking.
“Ever since the event has started, the support has ben really great. For a sport that many people in Singapore say is a dying sport….well you can see the line of people who queued up to get in.
“It showed that squash is still a vibrant sport. We are so happy that so many people came out - it really motivated us,” he said.
For Tan Chuan-Jin, President of the SEA Games Federation, the fans merited a special mention in his speech at the closing ceremony.
“What would these games be without you? You cheered your hearts out and stomped your feet sore.
“It was near hysteria at many events and we loved it!”