Shanti wins gold but falls short of Rio

Shanti Pereira running in the women's 200m final in the 78th Singapore Open at the National Stadium yesterday. She clinched her first gold of the meet with a time of 24.04sec.
The Straits Times

There is something about the National Stadium that brings the best out of Singapore sprint queen Shanti Pereira. The 2015 SEA Games 200m champion returned to the scene of her biggest triumph so far to win the women's 200m final yesterday at the 78th Singapore Open.

The 19-year-old clocked a time of 24.04sec to clinch her first gold of the meet, beating Malaysian Zaidatul Husnia (24.36) and Thi Oanh Nguyen (24.48) from Vietnam.

Despite her fine form, the women's 100m (11.80) and 200m (23.60) national record-holder is still short of meeting the Olympic Qualifying Standard of 23.20s by the July 11 deadline.

Her chance of going to Rio de Janeiro on a wildcard entry has been blocked owing to marathoner Neo Jie Shi's qualification but former national sprinter and record-holder C. Kunalan urged Shanti to not give up her hopes for August just yet.

Kunalan, the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) vice-president, said: "Shanti came so close in her 200m race. She has no reason to stop thinking about Olympic qualification. Why must it be impossible to qualify? Shanti can still break the Olympic marks and be able to represent us - there's still time."

However, Shanti is looking further ahead, saying: "The Asian Games is definitely on the cards for me in 2018, and hopefully the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

On Thursday, Shanti placed second in the women's 100m final with a time of 11.84s. Malaysia's Komalam Selvaretnam clinched gold (11.82) while compatriot Siti Fatimah came in third (11.90).

Meanwhile, the male wildcard entry is still open to athletes with the likes of Zubin Percy Muncherji and Calvin Kang in the mix.

Kang, who took part in yesterday's 4x100m men's relay and finished fifth, said: "Currently, there's different selection criteria and the last I heard, they (SAA) want to nominate someone who hasn't been to the Olympics."

Kang represented Singapore in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games after being given the wildcard and competed in the men's 100m.

The 26-year-old added: "That might not give me the chance to go to Rio but I'm not sure. I'm just going to give my best this season and let my legs do the talking."

This article was first published on April 30, 2016.
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