THE lights at the Hangzhou Olympic Stadium were bright but Veronica Shanti Pereira was brighter.
The Singaporean outshined her rivals to emerge as the region’s 200m queen with an effortless run which gave Singapore their first track and field gold medal at the Asian Games after 49 years.
And as the Majulah Singapura anthem played during the medal ceremony, the visibly emotional Shanti could not hold back her tears.
To the press, she just let it all out.
“Oh my God, I knew I crossed the line first, and I was like ‘oh my God’. What a season, what a season,” said Shanti, who also won the 100m and 200m gold in the Cambodia SEA Games.
“I just saw the finish line, I knew I had won. It’s been so crazy. It means a lot to me. I can’t describe this. It’s been incredible.
“Before the race, I said I’m going to give it everything I’ve got because it’s my last race of the season. I’m going to make it count.”
“I never thought I could win two medals in China. I wanted to do this, I loved to do this, but this exact position, I never thought it was possible. To be here, it’s amazing.”
Even the stadium was enthralled as the lanky Singaporean strode away, clocking a time of 23.03s to take the gold ahead of home favourite Li Yuting (23.28s) and Bahrain’s Ofonime Odiong (24.48s).
It was the 27-year-old Shanti’s second medal in the Games. She had earlier won the 100m silver medal with a time of 11.27s.
She will bid for her third today when she ends her Games in the 4x100m relay.
Meanwhile, national discus thrower Mohd Irfan Shamsuddin finished sixth with a best throw of 58.94m.
The Asian Championships bronze medallist was looking forward to winning a medal in the Asian Games but admitted that he had put too much pressure on himself.“I wanted this so much. I was looking forward to this. It is kind of hard to chew. I have to accept it like a man. I have to train harder,” he said.
“During the warm-ups, I was feeling really good. During the throws, I had to wait for half an hour and my body got cold. I got my rhythm quite late and my best throw came in the sixth throw,” said Irfan, who will compete in the Mokbo Throwing Championships in South Korea on Oct 27.
The top three winners were Iran’s Hossein Rasouli (62.04m) and Ehsan Hadidi (61.82m) and China’s Abuduani Tuergong (61.19m).
In the pole vault, Nor Sarah Adi failed to finish among the rankings as she did not make any mark in the competition.