Athletics: Love for sport gets you through tough times, says Pereira

National sprinter Shanti Pereira sharing her experiences from two Asean Schools Games appearances with student-athletes at the Singapore Sports Hub.
National sprinter Shanti Pereira (above) sharing her experiences from two Asean Schools Games appearances with student-athletes at the Singapore Sports Hub.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Young athletes who face unwelcome distractions that threaten to disrupt their focus in training must keep in mind their passion for their sport, said national sprinter Shanti Pereira yesterday.

The 20-year-old, speaking on the sidelines of a media briefing for the Asean Schools Games (ASG) in Singapore, was drawing on her own experience.

She was caught in the middle of a highly-publicised conflict within the local athletics fraternity just two months before the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Asked how young athletes can block out such disruptions and concentrate on training, she told The Straits Times: "It's hard to just brush it off because it's not very easy (to do so).

"But they just have to remember that they're doing what they love, and nothing is going to stop them from achieving their goals."

Over the past week, disagreements between her coach Margaret Oh and the Singapore Athletics high performance team over her participation in a centralised training camp threatened to cost her a spot in the women's 4x100m relay team.

An understanding was reached on Monday, after both parties agreed that the 200m SEA Games champion would join the camp.

Pereira featured in the 2011 ASG on home soil and the 2012 edition in Surabaya, Indonesia.

She acknowledged that some student-athletes may feel "nervous and scared" about their participation at the July 14-20 event. And she attempted to allay their concerns.

"It's really all about the experience that you get," she said of the annual meet.

"At that point I didn't really see it as pressure, it was more of having the opportunity to compete at a larger-scale event and I didn't have any expectations of myself.

"It was just about going there and being able to compete with competitors from the other countries."

Nicole Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2017, with the headline 'Pereira: Love for sport gets you through tough times'. Print Edition | Subscribe