SINGAPORE - Reigning SEA Games 200m champion Shanti Pereira served notice of her desire to capture the 100m title as well at the next Games in Kuala Lumpur with a pair of solid runs on Saturday (Jan 14) at the Potts Classic in New Zealand.
The 20-year-old Singaporean clocked 11.85 seconds in the 100m heats. It was faster than her bronze medal mark of 11.88sec at the 2015 Games in Singapore, which is also the qualifying time for selection for the Aug 19-31 edition in Malaysia.
Shanti's place will be confirmed pending approval from the Singapore National Olympic Council.
In the final at the Regional Sports Park in Hastings, Shanti powered home in 11.78 sec to claim the silver medal behind Zoe Hobbs, who also clocked an identical time.
It would have been a national record - which stands at 11.80sec and set by Shanti at the 2015 Singapore Open - but the wind speed of 2.2m/s was more than the 2m/s allowed by the International Association of Athletics Federations. It was therefore judged to be an unofficial time.
Despite the initial disappointment, Shanti, whose season-best in 2016 was 11.84sec, was thrilled with her performance. She said: "It's a really good start. I still have the 200m to go next week but I'm looking forward to the rest of the season for sure."
She had spent a month last November training in Munich with the Bavarian state sprint team and its head coach Volker Herrmann and was optimistic of clocking faster times this season.
The 2015 Games 100m winner Kayla Richardson of the Philippines and runner-up Tassaporn Wannakit of Thailand both clocked 11.76sec.
Shanti said: "I'm feeling a lot more confident now after Germany where I learnt a lot regarding my technique and built on my strength and endurance. And also coming out of a pretty quiet season last year I'm excited to compete again and see how I do."
The Republic Polytechnic student will next compete in the Jan 17 Cook Classic in Whanganui and the Jan 20 Capital Classic in Wellington.
Shanti made history twice at the biennial Games in Singapore two years ago. Her 200m win was the first time a Singaporean woman had won the event since Glory Barnabas at the 1973 South-east Asian Peninsular Games while her 100m bronze was the Republic's first medal in the event since Eng Chiew Guay captured the gold in 1973.