New spring in sprinter Shanti Pereira's step
Sprinter bounces from the hard knocks of recent years to emerge stronger for now and the future
As Singapore Athletics (SA) announced its path to the sport's rejuvenation yesterday - which included the unveiling of three sponsors - national sprinter Shanti Pereira is also approaching 2019 with a new spring in her step.
The 22-year-old starts her season today at the Singapore Open Track and Field Championships, where she will compete in the women's 200m and 4x100m mixed relay, and the women's 4x100m tomorrow at the National Stadium.
The Singapore Management University undergraduate had suffered a grade two hamstring tear at the same meet last April during the 100m final. A recurrence of the injury in June meant she did not get much time last year to train for the 200m event, although she competed in both the 100m and 200m events at the Asian Games.
She told The Straits Times yesterday: "The aim of this meet and the reason I'm not doing both the 200m and 100m is because I really want to focus on running the 200m again, just getting used to the curve.
"I'm just hoping to get a decent time - a sub-24 (second), maybe a 23.8 or 23.7."
The 2015 SEA Games 200m champion met the 100m qualifying mark of 11.76 seconds for this year's edition when she clocked 11.74sec at the Asean University Games in December.
"My preparations have been pretty good since last year after the Asian Games. I feel I'm in the right head space, physically I'm getting stronger and I feel I'm ready for the season," added Pereira, who was third in the 100m at the 2017 SEA Games.
Then, she broke down in tears after finishing third and losing her 200m crown. Her coach Margaret Oh revealed that she was affected by the infighting within SA's management before the Games.
Yesterday, she said: "These kinds of things happen in an athlete's career... I feel like I've been through a lot over the past couple of years and I'm not harping on it.
"I've been through all these things, so now I'm in a really good position to give it all I have for this year, next year and the years after."
SA yesterday unveiled sports apparel Under Armour, isotonic drink Pocari Sweat and traditional Chinese medicine experts Kin Teck Tong as its partners.
The total value of the three sponsorships amount to a six-figure sum, in cash and kind.
Tang Weng Fei, who is serving his third stint as SA president after being elected last October, is optimistic about the sport's future.
Ten local coaches were appointed in January to lead the senior and age-group relay teams.
Earlier this month, 27-year-old Soh Rui Yong lowered the men's national marathon record and hurdler Marc Brian Louis, 16, won Singapore's first-ever gold at the Asian Youth Athletics Championships.
Referring to these results and initiatives, Tang told ST: "(This) is testament that what we have put in place so far is correct.
"Our target is really 2021 and beyond... I really hope these youth athletes can continue to improve.
"I'm really looking forward to (the 2021 SEA Games), I think we could get at least 10 medals."
Almost 400 athletes from 14 countries will compete at today and tomorrow's Singapore Open, held concurrently with the final two days of track and field events for the National School Games.
In addition to Pereira, other stars include Taiwan's Cheng Chao-tsun, the men's javelin Asian record-holder and Asian Games men's pole vault bronze medallist Patsapong Amsam Ang of Thailand.