From disappointment to the Olympic dream, Singapore’s sprint queen is ‘ready’ for the next challenge

From disappointment to the Olympic dream, Singapore’s sprint queen is ‘ready’ for the next challenge

Singapore’s Shanti Pereira of Singapore celebrates winning the women’s 200m final athletics event during the 19th Asian Games at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre on Oct. 2, 2023.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Southeast Asia’s fastest woman Shanti Pereira is a household name in Singapore after winning the country’s first medal in 49 years at last year’s Asian Games — but it was not easy getting there.

The 28-year-old track-and-field athlete — often referred to as Singapore’s sprint queen — brought home a gold in the women’s 200-meter race and silver in the 100-meter race at the Asian Games.

She is now setting her eyes on the Paris Olympics in July, and training hard in the U.S. for it.

But coming so far did not come without numerous knockdowns. 

Pereira told CNBC that one of the “hardest parts” of her career was when she suffered a hamstring injury in 2018 that derailed her training. As a result, she could not progress beyond the Asian Games heats that year.

That resulted in her losing the Sports Excellence scholarship, and within the same week, the Yip Pin Xiu scholarship — Singapore Management University’s first full sport scholarship — was taken from her hands as well when her grades dropped. 

The next few years were a struggle for Pereira. 

“My energy was very focused on what other people were thinking of me and comparing myself to my competitors. But I realized there was absolutely no point in that — because these people have nothing to do with my life, my journey, and my successes.” 

The turning point came in 2022. Three weeks before the Southeast Asian Games, she finally snapped out of that downward spiral.

“I got really fed up and decided that I need to stop feeling sorry for myself as it wasn’t getting me anywhere.”

Although she did not win any medals at the games that year, she clinched two gold medals at the 2023 SEA Games.

The same year, Pereira broke the national record in the 100-m sprint six times and 200-m race four times.

Sha’Carri Richardson of the U.S., flanked by Shanti Pereira of Singapore and Shericka Jackson of Jamaica in the Women’s 200 meters semi-final heat three during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on August 24th, 2023.

Tim Clayton – Corbis | Corbis Sport | Getty Images

Even though the hardships were painful and took “many, many years to overcome,” Pereira said it helped shape her into who she is today. 

“You build character and resilience through such experiences. It was difficult but I wouldn’t take back anything that happened as it made me the person I am today, and the athlete I am today.” 

“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she added. “Track is a part of who I am and I just felt like I have a lot more to give to the sport.”

A role model

Paris 2024 Olympics

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