SINGAPORE - She has just been crowned Singapore's fastest woman after breaking the national 100m record on Wednesday, but the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) is already predicting Shanti Pereira to be the future sprint queen of South-east Asia.
Said SAA vice-president and interim chief of sports development Loh Chan Pew on Thursday: "Shanti is a real diamond and we must groom her."
Loh, himself a former national sprinter, had coached Amanda Choo, the previous 100m record holder (12.01sec) before Shanti eclipsed it on Wednesday night (11.89) at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine.
He added: "She can definitely go faster.
"With proper planning and barring injury, she will be there to fight for gold in 2015 (when Singapore hosts the biennial South-east Asia Games)."
The 16-year-old clocked 11.96 in the women's 100m semi-finals on late Thursday night, finishing fourth out of eight runners in her race.
Despite failing to reach the final, Shanti is the first Singaporean woman to post a sub-12 timing under legal wind conditions, repeating the feat twice in as many days and both times with a slight headwind no less.
Prema Govindan had clocked 11.83s at a meet in the United States in 1988, but the timing was not recognised then as the race was held with strong tailwind.
Shanti's timing on Wednesday meant, pending ratification by SAA, she had set five new marks - the national open, Under-23, national junior, youth and Under-19 - in one go.
The teenager said: "Everyone has been waiting for me to break the record, so there has been a bit of pressure."
"But I didn't really think about it and just stuck to everything that I've been doing."