Singapore’s sprint queen Shanti Pereira hit by injury, setback for Paris Olympics, Latest Team Singapore News - The New Paper
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Singapore’s sprint queen Shanti Pereira hit by injury, setback for Paris Olympics

Shanti Pereira has beaten some of Asia’s best, but Singapore’s sprint queen faces a battle now in a race against time to be fit for the Paris Olympics.

The 27-year-old, who won a historic 200m gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games in 2023, suffered an injury during a training camp in the United States which could put her second Olympic outing in jeopardy.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, Singapore Athletics (SA) confirmed on April 15 that Pereira has a leg injury. ST understands that it is a knee issue and that she underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan in Singapore on April 11.

Pereira had been gearing up for the July 26-Aug 11 Paris Games with a two-month training camp in Florida, US, from the first week of February.

She made her Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020 on a universality place and notched a significant milestone in August 2023, when she qualified for the 200m on merit at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

When contacted, her coach Luis Cunha declined to reveal more about the injury but allayed fears that she may be forced to miss the Paris Games, adding that it is too early to make a definite call on her participation.

Noting that it was a “minor problem”, Cunha said Pereira had “felt some pain” after breaking the 400m national record at the Florida Relays on March 30 – her first race of the 2024 season.

He said: “It is normal in sport that an athlete is able to sustain an injury. It can happen to anyone. Right now she has a problem and she won’t be able to compete (this) week. We will do what we can to ensure she is able to recover well. It is a setback, but life must go on.

“Her training load will be lowered for the next few weeks and we need to see how many weeks she needs (to recover).

“We had a plan, but now we need to change our plans and take some precautions.”

An SA spokesman said: “Shanti and her coach, Luis, will be working with Singapore Athletics and the Singapore Sport Institute to ensure that she receives all the support required to aid in her recovery.

“SA will also be working closely with Luis to reorganise her training preparations towards Paris 2024 in the coming weeks.”

Pereira had returned home on April 3 to compete in the Singapore Open on April 18 and 19.

She was to debut in the prestigious Diamond League on April 20 and April 27 in Xiamen and Suzhou, among a star-studded field that included reigning world champions Sha’Carri Richardson (100m) and Shericka Jackson (200m).

Cunha confirmed that those plans have been scrapped following the injury.

He had shared earlier that Pereira would compete in three more meets in Japan before heading to Europe for final preparations. Whether those plans will proceed will now depend on her recovery.

Pereira’s injury is a major setback after a stellar 2023 season, where she set national records in the 100m and 200m while racking up five gold medals and a silver at major meets.

She won the double at the SEA Games and Asian Championships, where she lowered her 100m national record to 11.20 seconds in July 2023.

A month later, she rewrote her 200m national mark after clocking 22.57sec in Hungary and became the first Singaporean to reach the semi-finals of the world championships.

She wrapped up her season at the Asian Games with a 100m silver and 200m gold to be the first Singaporean to clinch an Asiad athletics title since Chee Swee Lee in 1974.

For now, her supporters will be hoping to see Singapore’s sprint queen at the starting blocks in Paris where the track and field action kicks off on Aug 1.

In December 2023, she told the Olympics website that she and Cunha were “going to pull out all the stops to try... and make the Olympic final with a good-enough time”.

shanti pereiraOLYMPICS 2024athleticsSEA Gamesasian gamesSINGAPORE ATHLETES