Athletics: Shanti Pereira poised for 100m glory

Sprinter meets SEA Games qualifying time and comes close to breaking national record

Shanti Pereira clocked 11.85sec yesterday, faster than the 11.88sec qualifying time for SEA Games selection.
Shanti Pereira clocked 11.85sec yesterday, faster than the 11.88sec qualifying time for SEA Games selection.

Reigning SEA Games 200m champion Shanti Pereira served notice of her desire to capture the 100m title as well at the next SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, with a pair of solid runs at the Potts Classic in New Zealand yesterday .

The 20-year-old Singaporean clocked 11.85 seconds in the 100m heats, faster than her bronze-medal mark of 11.88sec at the 2015 Games in Singapore, which is also the qualifying time for selection for the Aug 19-31 edition in KL.

Shanti's place will be confirmed pending approval from the Singapore National Olympic Council.

In the final at the Regional Sports Park in Hastings, Shanti powered home in 11.78sec to claim the silver behind Zoe Hobbs, who also clocked an identical time.

It would have been a national record - which stands at 11.80sec and set by Shanti at the 2015 Singapore Open - but the wind speed of 2.2 metres per second in the final was more than the 2 metres per second allowed by the International Association of Athletics Federations. It was therefore judged to be an unofficial time.

Nonetheless, Shanti, whose season-best last year was 11.84sec, was thrilled with her performance.

She said: "It's a really good start. I still have the 200m to go next week but I'm looking forward to the rest of the season, for sure."

She had spent last November training in Munich with the Bavarian state sprint team and its head coach Volker Herrmann, and was optimistic of clocking faster times this season.

The 2015 Games 100m winner Kayla Richardson of the Philippines and runner-up Tassaporn Wannakit of Thailand both clocked 11.76sec at the 2015 Games final.

Shanti said: "I'm feeling a lot more confident after Germany, where I learnt a lot regarding my technique and built on my strength and endurance.

"Also, coming out of a pretty quiet season last year, I'm excited to compete again and see how I do."

The Republic Polytechnic student will next race in the Jan 17 Cook Classic in Whanganui and the Jan 20 Capital Classic in Wellington.

Shanti made history twice at the biennial Games in Singapore two years ago.

Her 200m win was the first time a Singaporean woman had won the event since Glory Barnabas at the 1973 South-east Asian Peninsular Games, while her 100m bronze was the Republic's first medal in the event since Eng Chiew Guay captured the gold in 1973.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 15, 2017, with the headline 'Shanti poised for 100m glory'. Subscribe