Shanti back at hub and back in business

National sprinter Shanti Pereira (right) wins silver in 11.84sec at the Singapore Open Track and Field Championships. Malaysia's Komalam Selvaretnam (centre) clinched gold.
National sprinter Shanti Pereira (right) wins silver in 11.84sec at the Singapore Open Track and Field Championships. Malaysia's Komalam Selvaretnam (centre) clinched gold.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

S'porean wins silver in first race at the Sports Hub since her historic SEA Games triumph

Back at the scene of her most famous triumph, national sprinter Shanti Pereira somehow found that extra gear once again at the Singapore Open Track and Field Championships.

Racing at the Singapore Sports Hub for the first time since winning SEA Games 200m gold, she recorded a season-best time of 11.84 seconds in the women's 100m yesterday.

This time, however, she had to settle for silver as Malaysia's Komalam Selvaretnam pipped her to the line by just two-hundredths of a second. Selvaretnam's compatriot Siti Fatimah took bronze in 11.90sec.

Shanti, who last year ended Singapore's 42-year wait for a 200m gold medal at the SEA Games, noted that she typically does not hit her stride so early in the season.

"Usually around this time, I'll be doing timings that are way off," she said. "I've worked a lot on my technique and people say I look a lot better running now."

She will race in her pet event, the 200m, as well as the 4x100m today.

While she enjoyed an impressive run, there was disappointment for national 400m runner Zubin Percy Muncherji. Hampered by a hamstring cramp midway through his race, he finished sixth in 48.27sec in the day's final event.

The result is a setback to his hopes of being awarded a wildcard entry to the Olympic Games, as he is one of the athletes who are being monitored for selection.

The 19-year-old said: "I expected a much faster time today but you can't always be running best times. Just got to bite the bullet and keep running. I know that I am in the running to be selected for the Olympics with a few other guys, but I can't let one race alter much. Honestly, I'm not too bothered about it. If I get selected, it's great. But if I'm not, it's okay because I'm still young. I'm just trying to focus on getting faster times."

The full-time national serviceman remains positive as his schedule with the military police allows him to train on all weekday evenings. Two weeks ago, he had clocked a season-best 47.85sec at the Philippine National Open-Invitational Athletics Championships.

He said: "This is the first year that I've clocked such good times at this time of the year. Usually I'll be running about 49 to 50 seconds."

In other results yesterday, Dipna Lim-Prasad clinched silver in the women's 400m in 56.33sec, while Ang Chen Xiang clocked 14.50sec in the 110m hurdles to bag the bronze medal. SEA Games bronze medallist Michelle Sng clinched was third in the women's high jump with a 1.70m effort.

But Calvin Kang failed to qualify for the 100m finals after clocking 10.77sec in the semi-finals.

The men's high jump event saw Malaysia's Nauraj Singh clinch a spot at the Rio Games by meeting the Olympic qualifying standard of 2.29m. He becomes the country's first track and field athlete to gain automatic qualification for Rio.

Nauraj, whose personal-best jump was 2.25m before yesterday, also managed to break the Malaysian record of 2.27m set by Lee Hup Wei in 2008.

Said the 24-year-old, who spent the past three months training in Australia: "It's a dream come true for any athlete to qualify for Rio based on merit. It gives you every right to be there.For the past few years, Malaysian athletics has been struggling. I hope this will be a highlight and get people to look up to athletics again."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2016, with the headline 'SHANTI BACK AT HUB AND BACK IN BUSINESS'. Print Edition | Subscribe