Athletics: Inactivity no bane as Pereira bags ticket for 2021 SEA Games

Sprinter pleased with good timings and partnership with new coach

National sprinter Shanti Pereira clocked 11.69 seconds in the 100m at the Singapore Athletics Performance Trial 2 event. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Despite the gloomy weather and soggy track, national sprinter Shanti Pereira was grinning from ear to ear after her race at the Singapore Athletics (SA) Performance Trial 2 event at the Home of Athletics on Saturday evening (Dec 12).

Under a steady drizzle, she clocked 11.69 seconds in the 100m, just 0.03sec behind her time which won her the bronze medal at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines, which is also the qualifying benchmark for the next edition of the biennial event in Vietnam.

Pereira, 24, had already earned a ticket to Vietnam after clocking 23.72sec in the 200m at the SA Performance Series Trial 1 event on Nov 29, bettering the 23.77sec she had set en route to a bronze in the event as well.

What made her times over the recent weeks remarkable, however, is that in addition to the less-than-ideal weather conditions on Saturday, these were her first races since the SEA Games at New Clark City which took place slightly over a year earlier.

Beaming, Pereira said: "The fact I could run this kind of timing in a situation where I couldn't even race all year (because of the pandemic), and things were tough during circuit breaker for training, I'm very, very satisfied.

"Plus, I don't think I've run this kind of timings in a local competition before."

Her coach, Luis Cunha, was also pleased with his athlete's performances, which he believes shows she is on the right track.

Pereira linked up with Cunha only in January after parting ways with long-time mentor Margaret Oh, who had coached her since she was 14.

Said the Portuguese coach: "We knew she would have many opportunities to qualify (for Vietnam), so this event was more a test to see how the year without competition went.

"Not only from her times but also the way she ran, I can see she is progressing in the way I want. But the idea is not just to improve in these small meets, but also in major competitions."

Pereira, who memorably won the 200m at the 2015 SEA Games for Singapore's first sprint gold in 42 years and clinched bronzes in the 100m and 200m at each of the last two editions of the biennial, believes the partnership with Cunha will bear fruit.

Shanti Pereira linked up with Luis Cunha in January. ST PHOTO: JOEL CHAN

"I'm very happy to be working with him, and I think both of us have been enjoying ourselves this year," she said.

"This year has been tough with Covid but it has given me a chance to get used to his training (methods) and understand how he works, and he gets to understand how I work… I'm happy with where I am and excited for what's to come."

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