Shanti Pereira breaks her own 100m national record
After an incredible 2022 that saw her break records and win her second SEA Games 200m gold, sprinter Shanti Pereira has picked up where she left off in her season opener in New Zealand.
The 26-year-old rewrote her own 100m national record at the New Zealand Track and Field Championships in Wellington’s Newtown Park on Friday. Competing in her first race of the year, she clocked 11.46 seconds to win her heat.
Her previous best of 11.48 seconds was set in August 2022 at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
While she managed to shave off another 0.02sec in the final – where she finished third – it was not registered as a national mark owing to strong tailwind of 3.3m/s. Only races within 2.0 m/s and below are considered for national records.
New Zealand’s Zoe Hobbs was first in 10.89sec, while compatriot Rosie Elliott clocked 11.36 sec to finish second.
Speaking to The Straits Times from New Zealand, where she is currently on a month-long training camp, Pereira said that she expects to see the “best version of myself” in 2023, especially after she started training full-time in January.
Last November, national agency Sport Singapore announced that Pereira – who also holds the 200m national record– had joined the Sport Excellence (Spex) Scholarship programme, which provides financial and other support to prepare athletes to excel at the major Games.
She said: “I always want to be the best version of myself and I am glad to be given this opportunity to train full time. It helps me a lot in terms of training and eventual competition because it really has improved my focus and I am able to have much better recovery.”
“When I was working and previously when I was a student, during the day there was just not enough time for rest because I have to be running from one place to another. It was also difficult to manage sleep and diet. Now, this (full-time training) gives me a very good opportunity to achieve even more.”
“This was my first race of the year and my expectations were to execute the techniques as well as possible. Based on training, I knew I was in a good shape.”
On top of retaining her 200m title at the Cambodia SEA Games and improving on her 100m silver, Pereira is also eyeing other major events such as the July 12-16 Asian Athletics Championships in Pattaya, the Aug 19-27 World Athletics Championships in Budapest and the Hangzhou Asian Games from Sept 23 to Oct 8.
Her time of 11.46 sec in New Zealand puts her in good stead for the upcoming SEA Games. At the 2021 Games in Hanoi, she finished second in 11.62sec, with Filipina Kayla Richardson first in 11.60sec and Thailand’s Supanich Poolkerd third in 11.66sec.
Deeming it as a “huge year ahead”, Pereira’s coach Luis Cunha is pleased that she is now a full-time athlete. He said: “When you can commit fully as an athlete, you can definitely expect to benefit from that. The change in her lifestyle gives her a good opportunity to improve and I am excited about what is to come from her.”
She will next compete at the Sydney Track Classic on March 11.
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