Shanti cuts to the chase

Shanti cuts to the chase
Singapore's Shanti Pereira (in red) gets a photograph taken with her family and friends after winning the bronze medal for the women's 100m final at the 28th Sea Games on 9 June 2015

Shock, joy and then gratitude - those emotions washed over Shanti Pereira after she crossed the finish line in the 100m and looked at the National Stadium's broadcast screen yesterday.

The 18-year-old could hardly believe that she had come in third in the blue-riband event, finishing in 11.88sec, behind winner Kayla Richardson of the Philippines and runner-up Tassaporn Wannakit of Thailand, both of whom clocked 11.76.

This is the first time a Singaporean woman has won a medal in the 100m since 1973, when Eng Chiew Guay captured the gold at the South-east Asian Peninsular Games on home soil as well.

Exuberant after ending that 42-year wait, a grinning Shanti said on winning her first SEA Games medal: "I saw that I was quite in front. Then, I saw my race replay. When I saw that I got third, I jumped.

"I looked back and cheered to the crowd because I think they were a major part of my win today."

Shanti, who holds the 100m national record at 11.80, started off in explosive fashion and maintained her powerful run to fend off the other sprinters in a strong field.

She explained: "I'm actually really happy because I don't usually have starts like this.

"I owe it to my coach Margaret Oh. The whole time she was telling me, 'Just focus on your start and the race is yours.'

"And she was right."

With the 100m bronze earned, Shanti is looking forward to her next three events - her pet 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m.

"Winning the bronze is really the icing on the cake for these SEA Games... and a huge confidence boost for the next three days (of competition)," she said.

Her compatriot Calvin Kang, on the other hand, just missed out on bronze as he finished fourth in the men's 100m, just 0.02sec behind Indonesia's Iswandi.

But the 25-year-old turned in a personal-best 10.47sec, improving his previous mark by 0.01sec.

"I didn't even know what position I was after I finished the race. But in terms of the technical run, I was very happy," said Kang, who managed to beat the 2013 Games 100m champion, an off-colour and nervous Jirapong Meenapra of Thailand.

His next target is breaking the 100m national record of 10.37 within the next year.

He is not the only one spurred on to accomplish larger ambitions after the Games.

Soh Rui Yong, the men's marathon champion, will be aiming to become the first Singaporean to qualify for the event at the 2016 Olympics.

In order to do so, he must take good care of his body - which means withdrawing from the Games' 10,000m today, as the physical toll of Sunday's marathon has made it unwise for him to compete.

"It's very possible that I would risk injury," he said. "You should see me climb the stairs right now, I look like I'm 80.

"Honestly, I want to run the 10km race because it's in the National Stadium.

"Unfortunately, it is coming almost a month too soon for me.

"If I'm not in shape to run my best, I don't race."

liminc@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 10, 2015.
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