August 24, 2023
SINGAPORE – Singapore’s reigning Asian champion Shanti Pereira booked her spot in the 200m semi-finals at the World Athletics Championships on Wednesday, breaking her national record along the way.
At the National Athletics Centre in Budapest, she clocked 22.57 seconds to finish second in Heat 3 behind Jamaica’s defending champion Shericka Jackson (22.51sec).
Pereira’s time also matches the event’s entry mark of 22.57 for the Paris 2024 Olympics. She is the first Singaporean to meet an Olympic qualifying standard and reach the semi-finals of the world championships.
The 26-year-old’s previous best was 22.69 that she set en route to winning the gold medal at the Cambodia SEA Games in May.
The top three of each heat and the next six fastest qualifiers advanced to the 200m semi-finals on Thursday (Friday morning, Singapore time).
Pereira was 12th overall of 44 runners. American Sha’Carri Richardson, who won the 100m on Monday, was fastest in 22.16, followed by compatriot Gabrielle Thomas (22.26).
Pereira, who missed the cut for the 100m semi-finals on Sunday, said: “It feels amazing. It was a goal for my coach and I to try and make it to the semi-finals for the 200m as well as try and hit that Olympic qualifying mark, so we came in ready.
“I was really pumped before the race, I was happy to be there competing with a really amazing field. I’m really glad that I executed my race the way we planned. I can’t describe how happy I am right now.”
She had qualified for the Aug 19-27 world meet in Hungary on merit through her world rankings in the 100m and 200m, becoming the first Singaporean to do so since at least 2011, when national body Singapore Athletics began to track such data.
This is the latest achievement for her in 2023. In July, she won a historic 100-200m sprint double at the Asian championships in Bangkok, just two months after the same feat at the SEA Games in Phnom Penh.
Since March, she has rewritten her 100m national mark six times and has now lowered her 200m standard four times.
Having clocked the fastest times in Asia for both events this season, she looks set to be a medal contender at the Sept 23-Oct 8 Asian Games in Hangzhou.
Ahead of the semi-finals, Pereira said: “For now, it’s just recovery and going in tomorrow with the same plan, executing the race the way we want to and just having fun.
“I’m at the semi-finals at the world championships, so I’m just going to embrace every single moment.
“It definitely feels different having come here qualified through my world ranking, it’s definitely a different feeling because it feels like I’m with the pack.
“It just feels really good to be here and compete with some of the world’s best athletes.”