SEA Games: Shanti just misses out, yet again

NAYPYIDAW - This time, at least, there was a smile.

The result, however, remained the same for Singapore sprinter Shanti Pereira at the Wunna Theikdi Stadium yesterday: A fourth-placed finish at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

The teenager clocked 24.16sec in the women's 200m, just 0.03sec behind Vietnam's Thi Oanh Nguyen, who won the bronze.

On Tuesday, the Republic Polytechnic student was glum-faced after she finished fourth in the 100m with a time of 11.99, 0.08sec away from third-placed Tassaporn Wannakit of Thailand.

This time, though, there was a reason for Shanti to smile, after she set a national record in the 200m during the heats in the morning, clocking 24.12.

Dipna Lim-Prasad held the previous record of 24.36.

Speaking after the final, Shanti, 17, said: "I'm really happy to break the record.

"I had no stress and I felt I could do it.

"I'm not really disappointed (with the 200m final) because I went all out this morning, and to run almost a same time is good."

She admitted, though, that her start in the final was poor.

Vietnam's Thi Huong Vu, who won the race in 23.55, caught up with her after the first 50m.

Shanti recovered well and it appeared she had done enough to earn a podium finish, until Oanh Nguyen dipped just ahead of her at the death.

Shanti still has one more race today - as part of the women's 4x400m relay team - but her hopes of leaving her first SEA Games with an individual medal are over.

Not that she is disappointed by it.

"It's my first SEA Games and I'm still young," she said.

"There's still a lot more for me ahead.

EXPERIENCE

"The whole experience has been quite amazing."

Perhaps Shanti's zen-like reaction to finishing just a hair's breadth away from her first individual medal for the second time in 24 hours had something to do with coach Margaret Oh's pep-talk.

Said Oh: "I had a talk with her yesterday after her race, and reminded her that she's still so young.

"She did very well to break the record and I'm happy for her, especially since she must have been tired because she ran four races (two heats and two finals) in two days.

"Overall it has been a great experience and very, very good exposure for her.

"In a way, it (not winning a medal) is good. It'll make her even hungrier for a medal come 2015, when the SEA Games are in Singapore."

msazali@sph.com.sg


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