Athletics: A learning experience for Shanti

Athletics: A learning experience for Shanti
Shanti Pereira will return from the World Youth Championships with plenty to think about, but will first probably enjoy a decent rest after a tiring schedule that still saw her clock two national records.

SINGAPORE - After running four races in as many days against the world's fastest youths - picking up two national records along the way - Shanti Pereira was reduced to just one word on Saturday. Tired.

Running into strong headwind, the 16-year-old clocked 24.76sec in the International Association of Athletics Federations World Youth Championships women's 200m semi-finals on Saturday, finishing fifth and missing out on the final of her pet event.

The timing also fell short of the 29-year-old national record of 24.54, which she had equalled during Friday's heats.

"It was so tiring," she said in a phone interview from Donetsk, Ukraine shortly after her race. "I felt like the wind was taking over me, a little bit like running into a wall."

The Republic Polytechnic student was not just weary. She also had butterflies in her stomach.

After all, she was racing in a field that included four runners with sub 24-second timings this season. One of them, Sweden's Irene Ekelund, who clocked a blazing 23.02 on Friday, was just beside her.

Said Shanti: "I was more nervous this time than in the heats because I was up against even tougher competitors."

Still, the former Singapore Sports School student would not trade her experience for anything else, especially after her coronation as Singapore's sprint queen at the biennial meet.

"This has been one of the toughest meets I've been to, but the competition has really opened my eyes," she said.

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