National sprinter Shanti Pereira has been setting marks in Australia, New Zealand and Cambodia in 2023, and now the 26-year-old has taken her record-breaking feats to Europe, where her latest achievement has left even her surprised.
On Sunday, May 29, she broke her own 100m national mark when she clocked 11.26 seconds in the women’s 100m final at the 58th International Pentecost Sport Meeting in Rehlingen, Germany. She finished second behind Luxembourg’s Patrizia van der Weken, who stormed home in 11.12sec.
Her 100m time is the quickest by an Asian woman in 2023. It was also her second national mark in a day, after her 11.34sec in the heats to better the previous best of 11.37sec set in Brisbane in April.
She has now rewritten her 100m mark five times and gone below her own 200m standard thrice since March.
“To know that I ran 11.26 and below 11.30 seconds, I am still shaking. I am surprised but very happy,” said Pereira in a phone interview with The Straits Times.
“I am glad I executed what I wanted to during the races because my coach and I have been working on trying to be better from the middle to the end of the race.
“I was looking at low 11.30, so yes I am surprised but with the training and how I had been feeling. I was also feeling like I was in a form to do another personal best.”
After clinching a historic sprint double at the Cambodia SEA Games, Pereira spent a few days in Singapore with her loved ones before leaving for Germany for a training and competition stint.
She will also compete in Switzerland and France before returning to Singapore on June 21 to prepare for the July 12-16 Asian Athletics Championships in Bangkok and the Hangzhou Asian Games from Sept 23 to Oct 8.
She is hoping to make the best of her time in Europe. Comparing the atmosphere in the Bungert Stadium to a carnival, she added: “The atmosphere here is nice and being up against athletes who are all looking to get good times always helps.
“I am trying to have fun, enjoy the moment and embrace the opportunity to be here.”
Pereira’s coach Luis Cunha is expecting quicker times from her, explaining that the “very high” level in European races, coupled with training facilities and track conditions, will enable her to improve even further.
He said: “She needs this kind of competition and the bonus is that in Europe, you compete and receive even more points for the world rankings. At the SEA Games, she got 40 points and here she can get 90 points so that shows you the difference in the competition level.
“We are always trying to see where we can shave some time, every time she runs so she is going to get quicker.”
Another national sprinter who had a weekend to remember was Elizabeth-Ann Tan, who won gold in the women’s 200m at the Taiwan Open in a personal-best 24.63sec.
On Saturday, Soh Rui Yong, who clocked 31min 10.70sec to win a 10,000m silver in Phnom Penh, finished second in New Taipei City in 31:25.25. The Philippines’ Sonny Wagdos won gold with a time of 31:18.55.