Shanti crestfallen after losing 200m crown
Singapore's sprint queen crestfallen after failing to defend 200m title, settling for bronze
As soon as she had crossed the finish line last night, even before she slowed down to a halt, Veronica Shanti Pereira had her head in her hands.
Singapore athletics' golden girl was crestfallen after failing to defend her SEA Games 200 metres title at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
The 21-year-old clocked 23.68 seconds to claim the bronze medal, just behind the region's new sprint queen, Vietnam's Le Tu Chinh (23.32) and Malaysia's silver medallist Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli (23.64).
Le's time was just 0.02sec off the 16-year-old SEA Games record set by Thailand's Supavadee Khawpeag.
The 20-year-old Vietnamese had also won the 100m dash a day earlier in equally commanding fashion, leaving Pereira, who is 13 months older, to settle for bronze in that event as well.
But, while the Singaporean was elated on Tuesday night to match her achievement in the 100m from 2015, it was as though her whole world came crashing down last night.
Shortly after her race, athletics team manager Yip Ren Kai escorted Pereira to a stairwell, out of sight, where she bawled her eyes out.
Her coach Margeret Oh, and Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) president Tan Chuan-Jin were among those who tried to console the sprinter, who holds the 100m and 200m national records.
Oh said that Pereira's emotional response was a result of the pressure of defending the gold medal.
When asked if gold was the target last night, Oh said: "Yes, because from her times in training, she showed a lot of improvement... better than in 2015.
"I think it's more of the pressure (of defending the title)... She (was) afraid. Frightened."
When asked if the widely-publicised internal squabbles within coaches and officials at national track and field body Singapore Athletics (SA) affected Pereira, Oh said it may have "slightly" affected the athlete.
Pereira later managed to compose herself enough to face the media, after the medal presentation ceremony.
Putting on a brave face, she said: "I guess I didn't do as well today.
"But I'd like to thank everyone who was part of my journey.
"My family, my friends, everyone who came down to support me in KL... Everyone who supported me in Singapore, I'm really grateful to them.
I think it’s more of the pressure (of defending the title)... She (was) afraid. Frightened.Coach Margeret Oh on Veronica Shanti Pereira
"I'm really grateful for to coach... I gave my best today, I did the best I could do."
Pereira did not take any questions from the media.
Oh said she tried to console her charge by telling her to "aim for the next race" and that she could be proud she did her best.
The coach added that next year's Asian Games in Jakarta would be the next big focus for her runner.
Pereira's time last night was only 0.03sec off the sixth-placed time - the SNOC's qualification criteria - at the 2014 Asian Games.
Singapore's other athlete in the women's 200m race, C Kugapriyah, finished eighth in 25.30.
In the men's 200m final last night, the Philippines' Anthony Beram clinched gold in 20.84, ahead of Thailand's Jirapong Meenapra (21.22) and Malaysia's Thevarr Gunasegaran (21.26s).
Gunasegaran pipped compatriot Khairul Hafiz Jantan, who had won gold in the 100m on Tuesday, to the bronze in a photo finish.