HANOI - On Thursday (May 19) morning, Shanti Pereira will finally indulge in a cup of Vietnamese coffee and a bowl of pho.
Singapore’s top woman sprinter has been in Hanoi since May 12 but passed up those offerings at the breakfast buffet at her hotel because she wanted to be in tip-top shape for her events.
After delivering her best SEA Games performance with a silver in the women’s 100m race on Wednesday – to add to her gold in the 200m on Saturday – she has certainly earned those treats.
On a gusty evening at the My Dinh National Stadium, she ran 11.62sec to finish behind Kayla Richardson of the Philippines (11.60sec) but ahead of Thai Supanich Poolkerd (11.66sec) for her first runner-up placing in the event at the biennial Games, having won three consecutive bronze medals previously.
While she was overcome with emotion after her win on Saturday, her mood was far lighter on Wednesday.
Wearing an easy smile, Pereira said: “Before the race, I was quite nervous because my start isn’t the best – things never change, it’s been like, 10 years – but my coach and I had this plan to make sure I finished strong... I think I did that.
“I did my season’s best, got near my PB (of 11.58) and I got a first silver, so I’m very, very happy.”
Last Saturday, the 25-year-old regained the 200m gold seven years after she won her first after running an inspired race to silence her doubters.
While some had written her off as being past her best, Pereira shared that she had targeted golds in both the 100m and 200m in Hanoi.
And while she pulled off the win only in the latter, she still felt her performance in the Vietnamese capital was a “huge achievement”.
“Overall, it’s a huge confidence boost. I’m just glad I broke through some barriers that have been holding me back for a very long time,” she said.
“And for that, I’m really proud of myself, even though I didn’t get the gold today.”
Among the other Singaporeans in action, Goh Chui Ling picked up her second medal in a chaotic final, a bronze in the women’s 10,000m in 39min 22.26sec, behind Vietnam’s Pham Thi Hong Le (35:56.38) and Myanmar’s Khin Mar Se (38:22.01).
The Singapore camp had lodged a protest against Vietnam’s Lo Thi Thanh, who initially finished second in 36:32.84, for using unapproved footwear.
While Lo was eventually disqualified, Khin was upgraded from fourth to second spot after she too lodged a protest and was found to have run an extra lap.
In the men’s 4x400m, Calvin Quek, Thiruben Thana Rajan, Reuben Lee and Tan Zong Yang also picked up a bronze after finishing in 3:11.09, behind Thailand (3:07.58) and Vietnam (3:08.52).
The achievements by both Goh and the men’s relay team came after long medal droughts for the Republic in their respective events.
Yvonne Danson last won a bronze in the 10,000m in Chiang Mai in 1995, while the quarter-miler quartet of Kenneth Khoo, Ng Chin Hui, Lance Tan and the late Zaki Sapari also claimed a bronze in Palembang in 2011.
Including Goh’s bronze, Singapore’s track and field athletes have picked up one gold, three silvers and seven bronzes in Hanoi. At the last SEA Games in the Philippines, they returned with only three bronzes.
On the improvement, Pereira said: “So amazing. It’s so exciting to be able to see my fellow track mates do so incredibly well.
“Over the past few days it’s been a case where if it’s not a medal, it’s a national record, which is amazing in itself. So I’m super proud of everybody.”