In the few days leading up to her 200m event at the recent 28th South East Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore, Veronica Shanti Pereira, 19, had not expected to win the gold medal at all.
So at the very moment when she had crossed the finishing line in first place, with a time of 23.60 seconds, Shanti, a Republic Polytechnic student doing a Diploma in Sports and Leisure Management, had naturally been very ecstatic. She explained, “I felt that it was a dream come true, literally! All I ever wanted was a gold in my most favourite event and that is what I got. Even till today, it still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest. But it’s slowly starting to.”
Did not expect the gold medal
Shanti added, “I actually didn’t expect the gold at all. Looking at my competitors, it would have been a dream come true even if I had won the silver or the bronze. So the gold definitely came as a shock to me.”
Her triumph marks Singapore’s first gold medal in the 200m sprint event, since Glory Barnabas had won it in the 1973 edition of the Games.
Crowd had helped her to victory
Shanti felt that the crowd definitely helped her to her victory too. She added, “Hearing them scream for Singapore gave me that extra boost, because all I wanted to do was to make my country proud and with their support, it made me want to do it even more. Hearing them made me smile so much throughout my events.
Won a bronze medal in the 100m the previous day
The previous day, Shanti had also won the bronze medal in the 100m sprint event, completing the event in 11.88 seconds. This had come as a complete surprise to her because according to the sprinter, she had not performed well in the 100m heats – in fact, she had only managed to squeeze into the finals, by the skin of her teeth.
She explained, “After the heats, my chances at a medal didn’t seem good so I was just going there to do my very best. So the bronze was an amazing boost for the next few races to come.”
Increased the intensity of her training to build up to SEA Games
To get herself ready for the SEA Games, Shanti had primarily been increasing the intensity of her training sessions. She added, “I have also been going to meets like the Singapore and Taiwan Open to prepare for the race.”
Influenced by her older sister to join track & field
Shanti had initially got herself into sprinting due to the influence of her older sister, Valerie. She said, “It was through my sister that I had initially wanted to join track & field. Seeing her run made me want to run too. And ever since I joined, I feel like someone else on the track. It’s my place of solace, where I can show my true potential both as an athlete and as a person in the values I uphold.”
After winning the 100m race during one of her school’s Sports Day events, Shanti was officially asked to represent her school in track & field. That had been when she was in Primary Three. And since then, Shanti has never looked back in terms of her sprinting career.
Set on conquering the world at the Olympics
Now, after having successfully conquered the region, Shanti has her eyes on conquering the world – that’s because Singapore’s sprint queen is keen on running in the Olympics eventually. She said, “I would want to one day qualify for the Olympics for my 200m, so training now is focused on that and everything else along the way, like the next SEA Games, as well as the World Championships this year.”
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