Athletics: Hit by nerves, Shanti underperforms

Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown (centre) and Margaret Adeoye running in the same lane at the end of the women's 200m heats yesterday. Campbell-Brown started in lane five but, after the bend, she lost her bearings and crossed into the Briton's lane
Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown (centre) and Margaret Adeoye running in the same lane at the end of the women's 200m heats yesterday. Campbell-Brown started in lane five but, after the bend, she lost her bearings and crossed into the Briton's lane six before finishing ahead of Adeoye. The rules allow Campbell-Brown, who did not impede Adeoye, to qualify for the semi-finals.PHOTO: REUTERS

She is South-east Asia's reigning 200m sprint queen but, on the world stage, Shanti Pereira is no royalty.

Yesterday, at Beijing's Bird's Nest Stadium, Singapore's sole representative at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships could not make it past the heats of the women's 200m semi-finals.

The 18-year-old, who clinched Singapore's first sprint title in 42 years in June's SEA Games, finished last in the fifth heat, with a time of 24.22sec.

Competing for the first time since the biennial Games, Shanti fell short of her personal best of 23.60, set when she won gold at the Games on home soil in June.

After the race, she told The Straits Times that nerves got the better of her.

NERVOUS EFFORT

Before the race, I was excited and eventually I became too nervous. But I take away the positives.

SHANTI PEREIRA SEA Games champion on her poor performance in the 200m at the World Championships

"I think I was really overwhelmed by the whole competition," she said.

"Before the race, I was excited and eventually I became too nervous," added the Republic Polytechnic student.

"But I take away the positives and I can proudly say that I have competed at this level. It is a great experience for me."

Shanti's timing placed her 48th out of 49 participating runners, with only Tajikistan's Kristina Pronzhenko finishing slower than her.

She was lined up in lane four of her heat, right beside 2004 and 2008 Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown.

"Campbell-Brown was right in front of me and I felt really intimidated," said Shanti with a laugh.

" She was right in front of me and I wondered, 'How can I chase her?'"

But perhaps it was Brown herself who was dazed as the Jamaican, who won the heat in 22.79, finished the race in the wrong lane.

She started in lane five but finished the race in lane six, where Great Britain's Margaret Adeoye was running.

Rules, however, allow Campbell-Brown to qualify for the semi-finals as she was deemed not to have impeded Adeoye.

Shanti is eager to make a return to the World championships in two years' time in London.

She said: "I now know what it feels like and I will train even harder to make the step up."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2015, with the headline 'Hit by nerves, Shanti underperforms'. Print Edition | Subscribe