There are tons I can improve on, says Shanti Pereira after historic sprint double at Asian meet

The 26-year-old, who had also made history in May by clinching the 100m and 200m titles at the Cambodia SEA Games, won both races in Thailand convincingly.

Kimberly Kwek

Kimberly Kwek

The Straits Times


Shanti Pereira posing with her Asian Athletics Championships gold medals at Changi Airport on July 17, 2023. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

July 18, 2023

SINGAPORE – She had just completed an unprecedented sprint double at the Asian Athletics Championships, but Singapore’s sprint queen Shanti Pereira believes there is still more to come from her.

At Bangkok’s Suphachalasai National Stadium, she became Singapore’s first gold medallist at the continental meet after securing the 100m title in a national record 11.20 seconds last Friday, before adding the 200m crown in a championship record 22.70sec on Sunday.

“Definitely, there are tons I can improve on,” said Pereira, who was speaking to reporters at Changi Airport after arriving in Singapore on Monday.

“Technically speaking, the technical parts of the race, a lot of parts I can work on, maintaining my form under fatigue, that’s something I can work on moving into more championships and competitions.”

The 26-year-old, who had also made history in May by clinching the 100m and 200m titles at the Cambodia SEA Games, won both races in Thailand convincingly.

In the century sprint, she was 0.19sec faster than Iran’s silver medallist Farzaneh Fasihi. In the 200m, Pereira finished 0.43sec ahead of runner-up Jyothi Yarraji of India.

While her times this season had put her in contention for a medal at the competition, Pereira was surprised by how well she performed.

She said: “I was surprised by the gap. I don’t really expect this kind of gap at an Asian-level competition, so that’s another major thing that came out of it and I’m extremely happy about that.”

Pereira has received an outpouring of support following her feats.

On the team’s flight back on Monday, the Scoot flight captain made an announcement and wrote a short note welcoming the Singapore contingent home and congratulating Pereira on her gold medals.

Her phone has also been flooded with messages of encouragement.

She said: “My phone has been blowing up. I’m getting a lot of congratulatory messages from tons of people. It’s really nice.

“It’s always nice to have encouragement from different kinds of people and, at the end of the day, this is just what happens.

“You do a good performance, people congratulate you. It’s just part of the process and you just have to learn how to take that in, embrace it and focus on what lies ahead.”

Shanti Pereira posing with passer-by Vincent Heng after arriving at Changi Airport on Monday, following her historic sprint double at the Asian Athletics Championships. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

There were a few people who approached Pereira for photos at the airport. One was Lee Shao Wen, who happened to be there and wanted a picture to show his two daughters, who are aged eight and 12.

The 43-year-old, who is self-employed, said: “They did notice the coverage… Her winning gold is a great thing for us and I want my girls to look up to her.”

Pereira’s coach Luis Cunha believes that she has made significant process from the start of the season, saying: “It’s been a very challenging year. This is not normal in athletics, having so many peaks. For the first two (competitions), they went perfect, she won both and now she’s on a different level from before.”

Pereira will spend a week in Singapore before flying off to train and compete in Berlin and Copenhagen ahead of the Aug 19-27 World Athletics Championships in Budapest. The next major competition after the world meet is the Sept 23-Oct 8 Hangzhou Asian Games.

On training overseas, Cunha said: “She has a good team to support her here, but it’s different when you go to Europe where she has the opportunity to compete with some of the best athletes in the world. This kind of thing you have to be there, you cannot simulate in training.

“So we’re going to try to do the things that we planned and hope that she can continue to be healthy and perform at this level.”

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