CLARK - There were no tears this time, only a smile on Shanti Pereira’s face as she looked up at the scoreboard at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium.
Missing out on the women’s 200m gold for the second consecutive SEA Games hurt, but an older and more mature Pereira took the disappointment on the chin.
The 22-year-old, who first stormed onto the SEA Games stage with a gold-medal win at the 2015 edition in Singapore, clocked 23.77sec in the 200m final on Saturday (Dec 7) to claim the bronze.
Newly-crowned sprint queen Kristina Knott of the Philippines won the gold in a Games record of 23.01sec, while 2017 winner Le Tu Chinh of Vietnam clinched the silver in 23.45sec.
“I feel happy, I got a season’s best and I got a bronze, so overall I’m quite happy,” said Pereira after her race. “Yeah definitely there’s disappointment, but seeing the competition here, it’s really fierce so I’m just glad I got to run with them and stay in the mix in the final.”
The sprinter said that the morning’s heats had put her gold-medal target sharply into perspective. The United States-based Knott, who is making her debut at the Games, had broken the Philippine national record in the heats with a blistering run of 23.07sec, before breaking it again in the evening’s final.
Chinh had posted the second fastest qualifying time of 23.61sec, while Pereira was third fastest in 23.94.
Pereira, who clocked the national record of 23.60sec at the 2015 Games, added: “After I saw the time, I was like, ‘Wow, she’s really good and probably gunning to qualify for Tokyo,’ so good for her.”
While the Singapore runner was inconsolable after losing the gold in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, she kept her emotions in check this time.
“I guess it’s about managing expectations and just aiming to have fun with it, and to enjoy my race instead of thinking about the result,” she said.
With 24-year-old Knott set to dominate the track in the years to come, Pereira is up for the challenge as she added: “She’s definitely going to be a fierce competitor and I’m looking forward to it.”
In the men’s 200m final, it was a one-two finish for Thailand as Khongprasit Chayut and Punpa Siripol won the gold and silver in 20.71sec and 20.78sec respectively. Malaysia’s Nasir Taib Russel Alexander took the bronze in 21.11sec.
Separately, in what is a blow to the Singapore athletics team, pole vaulter Rachel Yang will not be defending her bronze medal at the SEA Games.
The 37-year-old tore her calf muscle during a training session a day before departing Singapore for the Philippines and has been ruled out of the competition.