HANGZHOU, CHINA: History was made on Saturday (30 Sep) when Shanti Pereira became Singapore’s first Asian Games medallist in athletics since 1974, clinching silver in the electrifying women’s 100m final at the 19th Asian Games.
The race, which seemed firmly in Pereira’s grasp, saw a late surge by Ge Manqi of China.
Although the Singaporean sprinter commanded the race from the start, Ge managed a last-moment dash, winning in a tight 11.23 seconds. Pereira, only 0.04 seconds behind, clocked in at 11.27 seconds.
The big screen replay showcased how tantalizingly close Pereira was to a gold medal. Her evident disappointment was palpable to all in attendance.
However, her spirits seemed to lift when she realized her silver win – humorously looking for a Singapore flag to celebrate with, only to resort to pointing at the one on her kit.
Bronze was a tight competition, but Bahrain’s Hajar Saad Alkhadi narrowly secured it, edging out Thailand’s Supanich Poolkerd.
The road to the final wasn’t straightforward for Pereira. Despite finishing sixth in Friday’s heats, her time of 11.42s earned her a spot in the finals due to being the fastest outside the top automatic qualifiers. This marked a significant improvement from 2018 when she couldn’t progress past the heats.
In the run-up to the Games, the 27-year-old Pereira has been in blistering form, boasting the fastest time of any Asian woman in the 100m for 2023, until Ge surpassed it in the heats a day earlier.
Pereira’s achievements this year also include being the first Singaporean woman to clinch both 100m and 200m titles at the SEA Games. Her winning spree continued with a sprint double at the Asian Athletics Championships in July.
Further cementing her position as a rising star, Pereira’s performance in Budapest last month marked her as the first Singaporean to reach a World Championships semi-final, specifically in the 200m. She’s also made her mark for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Now, all eyes will be on Pereira as she sets her sights on the 200m heats on Sunday. With her current momentum, expectations are high for another stellar performance.
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