Sprint queen Shanti Pereira breaks 400m national record, Latest Athletics News - The New Paper

Sprint queen Shanti Pereira breaks 400m national record

As part of preparations for her 2024 season, Singapore sprint queen Shanti Pereira was entered for a 400m race – an event in which she seldom competes – at the Florida Relays on March 30.

After crossing the finish line, she achieved more than just her training objective. She also broke a national record.

Her 53.67-second effort, which placed her fifth in a race won by Canada’s Kyra Constantine (51.50sec), eclipsed the 54.18sec mark set by Dipna Lim-Prasad en route to a silver medal at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Pereira’s coach Luis Cunha said they just wanted to try something different, having not had the opportunity for a 400m race last season. The previous time she competed over this distance was at the Singapore Athletics Performance Trials in 2020, when she clocked 56.97sec.

Pereira said: “For the 400m runners, sometimes they do the 100m and 200m when it’s not their peak time of the season and they just want to dabble in different things, so that’s what we wanted to do.”

The plan was to achieve a certain pace that she should be hitting at various points of the race, which she managed to execute as they also eyed the national record.

“Just looking at my 200m time, we had a good sense of the kind of time that I could do in the 400m, which is why we were targeting to potentially break the national record,” said Pereira. “The goal was to be able to break it and I’m glad that I managed to do it.”

Cunha said while Pereira is not training for the 400m, it was “a good experience in a good track, pretty good competition and she delivered a good race according to the plan”.

The 400m race in the James G. Pressly Stadium at the University of Florida concluded Pereira’s two-month training stint in the Sunshine State.

The 27-year-old had also set national records in the 100m and 200m in a stellar 2023 season, which saw her rack up five gold medals and a silver at major meets.

She won gold for both distances at the SEA Games in Cambodia and Asian Championships in Bangkok, where she lowered her national record in the century sprint to 11.20sec last July.

A month later, she rewrote her 200m national mark by clocking 22.57sec in Budapest as she became the first Singaporean to reach the semi-finals of the world championships, earning a Paris Olympics spot in the process.

At the Hangzhou Asian Games, she wrapped up her season with a 100m silver and 200m gold to become the first Singaporean to clinch an Asiad athletics title since Chee Swee Lee in 1974.

Next up for Pereira will be the Singapore Open from April 18 to 19.

Cunha said more races have been lined up, adding: “For April, we have plans to compete in Korea and then the Diamond League meet in China.

“This Diamond League is the most exclusive competition in our sport and she’s on the level now that she can go for this competition. Then three more meets in Japan, then we will go to Europe for the final preparations for the Olympic Games.”

The 80,000-capacity Stade de France, which will host the Paris Games’ athletics events from Aug 1 to 11, will be her final destination for 2024.

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