All eyes will be on Shanti Pereira at the upcoming Southeast Asian Games as she attempts a feat never achieved by a Singaporean female in history.
Win the 100m dash, something which even luminaries like Mona Kunalan and Nurulaini Ariffin in the 80s and 90s could not get under their belts.
The signs are positive so far for Shanti, as she is currently ranked the fastest in Asia for 2023 so far, granted that the season is only just beginning.
Over the last month, the 26-year-old has lowered the national record to 11.37s, and also took the Australian Open.
Her timing of 11.37s at the Australian Open finals was the third time she rewrote the mark.
How does that timing compare to the last SEA Games in Vietnam?
Last year, Shanti clocked 11.62sec to finish behind Kayla Richardson of the Philippines (11.60sec) and ahead of Thai Supanich Poolkerd (11.66sec) for her first runner-up placing in the event at the My Dinh Stadium.
It was her first silver, having won three consecutive bronze medals previously.
If Richardson’s profile is anything to go by, she will be the biggest hurdle ahead of Shanti’s goal of gold.
Lydia de Vega’s 11.28s still remains at the Games record, clocked at the 1987 SEA Games in Jakarta.
Her coach Luis Cunha told the Straits Times that the said the Australian Open was very much a rehearsal for upcoming major competitions such as the May 5-17 SEA Games in Cambodia.
He told the Straits Times: “For the final, we wanted her to try something different in terms of race execution and to enjoy this competition, where there was no pressure for her – just enjoyment.
“She thought it was possible to fight for medals – there were at least three girls faster than her very recently, but my expectation was she could fight for the victory.
“The result was very tight, but the outcome was perfect.”
Shanti will compete in theSingapore Open Track and Field Championships from 26 to 28 April, before the SEA Games.
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