SINGAPORE celebrated its first athletic gold win in 49 years at the Asian Games with its Indianorigin sprinter Shanti Pereira winning the women’s 200m final in Hangzhou.
Pereira clocked 23.03 seconds to finish the race last Monday (2) at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium. It was the first athletics gold medal for the citystate since 1974, when sprinter Chee Swee Lee had won the women’s 400m race.
China’s Li Yuting took the silver with 23.28 seconds and Bahrain’s Edidiong Ofonime Odiong came third at 23.48 seconds in last Monday’s race.
Odiong’s compatriot, Salwa Eid Naser, was disqualified for a false start.
Draped in a Singapore flag, the 27-year-old crouched down on the track and covered her face with her hands, before raising her arms in victory.
The previous Saturday, Pereira ended her country’s nearly 50-year wait for a track and field medal at the Asian Games, after she clinched a silver in the women’s 100m.
Pereira, whose 200m personal best stands at 22.57 seconds, then topped all three heats for the event the next day, with a time of 23.14 seconds.
This was her first Asian Games 200m final. At the last edition in 2018, she did not advance past the semi-finals.
The Singaporean has overcome much to get to where she is today, said a media report. She gave up her job as a copywriter to become a full-time runner.
“When I had the chance I jumped right in,” said Pereira.
“What a season. It’s been so crazy, it means a lot to me. I can’t really describe this.”
No one was prouder than her parents watching from the stands as Pereira draped herself in the Singapore flag and burst into tears. “I just got emotional,” said dad Clarence. “I’m still in a daze.”
She first burst into the nation’s consciousness at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games when she took gold in the 200m, clocked a personal best, and set a new national record.
Her win also ended a 42-year gold medal drought for Singapore in a SEA Games sprint event.
In August, Pereira became the first Singaporean to make a World Championships semi-finals after a stellar showing in the 200m.
She also met the qualifying mark for the event at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.