Sprint queen looking to go faster

Student Veronica Shanti Pereira, who won bronze for the 100m and gold for the 200m at last year's SEA Games, has never counted calories because she knows they would be burned off during training.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Q How has your exercise regimen changed over the years?

A My workouts get tougher every year because I constantly want - and need - to improve on my timings. While I was preparing for the SEA Games last year, part of my training involved running 200m up to 15 times, with a 45-second rest in between each run. This was up from my maximum of 10 runs previously.

Q What is your secret to looking so fabulous?

A I always give my all at every training session and ensure that I do core exercises to keep those core muscles intact.

Q Do you ever take a break from exercise?

A Yes, after my race season and before I start training again. I may not exercise at all for up to two weeks.

Q Have you had to make any sacrifices in the name of fitness?

A I don't feel like I have had to.

I think sports or athletics is what I was meant to do, so training has become a way of life.

There was nothing I had to unwillingly give up to go for my dreams.

Q What went through your mind when you crossed the finish lines at the SEA Games last year?

A Utter disbelief that I had won because I did not expect it at all.

The amazing feeling I got from winning bronze for the 100m race gave me the confidence to fight hard for the 200m. It was such a huge honour to eventually win the 200m gold for Singapore.

Q What is your diet like?

A I do not follow any diet. I feel that I need to eat a lot because of the intensity of my workouts, though I eat normal food portions. But I may snack on fruits or nuts two hours after a main meal. For my breakfast at home, I may eat bread or biscuits. Lunch may be hawker food, and dinner is always home-cooked food.

I have never counted calories. There is no need to - I know that I will burn them off the next day.

Basically, I reward myself every day after "suffering" by eating what a normal person would.

Q Has this diet changed very much over the years?

A Over the years, I have become more cautious of what I eat, especially what I snack on.

I make sure these are healthier snacks like fruits and nuts, which I sometimes pack in a Tupperware to take along with me. In the past, I would happily take a chocolate bar without a second thought.

Q What are your indulgences?

A My biggest indulgence would be fast food like McDonald's, but I limit myself to one such meal a month.

Q What do you do to relax?

A I like to lie in bed and read a book or catch up on television shows that I have missed.

Napping is always good, too. If I do take a nap before my late afternoon training, it will be no more than an hour.

Q What's your favourite part of your body? And the least favourite?

A My favourite part of my body would be my arms as they are toned. My least favourite are my calves. I just want them to be a bit bigger.



Plyometric drills (exercises with hurdles), followed by speed-endurance runs and core exercises.


Gym session - squats, benches, hamstrings, dead lifts and pull-ups. Plyometric exercises. Sprints. Core exercises.


High-intensity speed reps.

Core exercises.


Circuit exercises. Up to two sets of fartleks, which involves varying one's pace during a run, or eight to 10 sets of 200m strides. Core exercises.


Speed endurance training.


Plyometric exercises.

Core exercises.



Bio Box


AGE: 19

WEIGHT: 55kg

HEIGHT: 1.65m

Ms Pereira sprinted her way to a historic 200m gold - Singapore's first in 42 years - and a 100m bronze at last June's SEA Games.

Now, a mere 0.4sec separates her 200m personal best of 23.60sec and the Olympic qualifying mark of 23.20sec. For an athlete, 0.4sec is "considered a lot", she said.

When asked if she is confident of securing a spot in the Rio Olympics this year, she said she is not giving herself too much pressure.

"I simply aim to achieve personal bests in my events, the 100m and 200m. I just want to go faster and faster."

She is pursuing a diploma in Sports and Leisure Management, jointly offered by Republic Polytechnic and the Singapore Sports School.

Her 55-year-old mother is a childcare educator and her 58-year-old father is a freelance oil consultant.

Ms Pereira is an ambassador for Run For Hope, an annual run organised by Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, Regent Singapore and the National Cancer Centre Singapore to raise awareness and support for cancer research.

The 23rd edition of the run will be held this Sunday at the Marina Promontory.

Joan Chew

This article was first published on January 26, 2016.
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