HANGZHOU, China: Singapore sprinter Shanti Pereira ended Singapore’s 49-year wait for an athletics gold medal as she claimed the women’s 200m title on Monday.
Pereira, 27, clocked 23.03 seconds at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, ahead of China’s Li Yuting (23.28sec) and defending champion Edidiong Ofonime Odiong (23.48sec).
The Bahraini’s compatriot Salwa Eid Naser was disqualified for a false start, adding to the tension of the night.
Speaking on live television seconds after her race, Pereira, 27, said: “I wasn’t really affected by the false start. It happens and we prepare for it... I was just focused on my execution from start to finish, how I came off the blocks and down the straight. When I saw I was ahead, I just ran for it.”
On the significance of the moment, she smiled and said: “I’ll probably be crying my eyes out later.”
This caps what has been a stunning season for the Singaporean, who on Saturday won the 100m silver.
Her gold on Monday is Singapore’s first in track and field at the quadrennial Games since Chee Swee Lee won the women’s 400m crown at the 1974 Teheran Games.
She also claimed a silver and bronze in the relays that year. Before her, Ng Liang Chiang, in the men’s 110m hurdles at the 1951 Games in New Delhi, was the country’s only other gold medallist.
In addition to her Asiad medals, Pereira’s accolades in 2023 include golds in the 100m and 200m at the Cambodia SEA Games and Asian Athletics Championships.
At August’s World Athletics Championships, she also became the first Singaporean to reach the semi-finals after clocking 22.57sec in the 200m heats, and meeting the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifying mark. - The Straits Times/ANN