11 June 2015 – Singapore’s new sprint queen Shanti Veronica Pereira ended the Lion City’s 42-year wait to win her first Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medal in the 200m on Wednesday at the new National Stadium.
Roared on by a vociferous crowd decked in red and white, the 18-year-old charged out of the blocks and turned on the afterburners in the last 100m to claim gold ahead of Filipino Kayla Richardson (23.72s) and Vietnamese sprinter Nguyen Thi Oanh (23.92s).
Her time of 23.60s rewrote the national record she set during the Heats in the morning (23.82s) and made her the first female sprinter to win the event since the legendary Glory Barnabas achieved that feat in 1973.
Speaking to the media after her race, the youngster could barely hide her excitement as she thanked everyone who has helped her on this amazing journey.
“This feels so amazing! I’m so happy,” she exclaimed. “I didn’t know I was going to win, but I did. I can’t describe how I feel right now. I wanted a medal definitely, my goal was a medal and I knew who I was racing against (Kayla).”
While she came out of the bend in front of the chasing pack, Shanti was not always sure if she could hold off her competition, but explained that she just started to “cheong” and it worked out well in the end.
She added: “It was just trying to catch whoever was in front of me, whether it was the Philippines, or whoever… I was a bit scared because the Malaysian girl seemed to be getting a little ahead of me a little bit, so I started to Cheongand it really worked!
“My game plan was just to have a good start and not go so fast on the first curve and to keep up with the person next to me and hopefully have more energy at the end.”
Having claimed the 100m bronze medal a day earlier, Shanti was quick to thank her coach for making some minor tweaks to her style.
“I knew that in the heats, I did slow down a little bit, so I was really hoping that I could do even better in the finals. Yes I have (been working on having a more explosive start), it’s the thing that my coach has tried to work on the most among other things.”
There was more good news for the host nation when Zhang Guirong continued her reign as the Southeast Asian queen of shot put with a throw of 14.60m. It was her six consecutive gold medal which means no other athlete has taken the title away from her for the past decade.
She finished ahead of Thailand’s Sawitri Thongchao (13.62m) and Areerat Intadis (13.31m). Singapore’s Hannah Lee finished a commendable fourth.
Over in the Women’s 400m Hurdles, Dipna Lim Prasad set a new personal best with a time of 59.24s to claim the silver, while Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Huyen struck gold with a Games record (56.15s).
11th Jun 2015