In June 2015, the National Stadium witnessed the crowning of a new sprint queen when Shanti Pereira won the SEA Games 200m dash. Coming back to the scene of her golden exploits Pereira wasn’t about to disappoint.
Singapore's Shanti Pereira competes in the women's 200m final. Photo: Sport Singapore
On the first day of the 78th Singapore Open Track & Field Championships 2016, Shanti set a season’s best timing of 11.84 seconds in the women's 100m to come in second. She bettered her silver medal with a gold on the second day of the competition by coming in first in the 200m race.
Although the 19-year-old’s time of 24.04sec was enough to beat her Malaysian and Vietnamese rivals, it was still some distance away from the national record she set at the SEA Games and fell short of the Olympic qualifying mark of 23.20s.
“It feels good to win gold here again, especially since the 200m is my favourite event. I was very tired after yesterday as I had a lot of races back to back,” said Shanti after the race.
“So I was definitely nervous, but I tried to get that out of my mind. If I’m scared, I can’t perform. So I just forgot all about my fears and tried to chase the people in front of me.”
“Thankfully, I managed to emerge after the curve, and I’m very happy to have won.”
When asked about missing the Rio mark she said: “My time might not be my PB, but I’m still satisfied that at this period of the year, I’m still able to hit reasonable times like this… There are a few more meets in May and June. For now, I’m just continuing my own season training till those meets.”
Shanti was not the only Singaporean to get on the podium during the championship. Pole vaulter Rachel Yang won silver in her event despite not having had the smoothest of run ups to the competition.
Singapore's Rachel Isabel Yang competes in the women's pole vault final. Photo: Sport Singapore
“I haven’t been able to prepare very well for the competition due to rainy weather the past week.” said the national record holder.
“(But) the home crowd again helped me a lot and I wouldn’t be able to jump this height in another setting and I need to thank them again just like the SEA Games last year” she continued.
In a first of it’s kind event, the second day of the Singapore Open was run concurrently with the 57th National Schools Track and Field Championships and saw the launch of the ActiveSG Athletics Club.
Such an immense undertaking would not have been possible if not for the young men and women of Team NILA working behind the scenes. These young volunteers were out and about ensuring that the meet was run smoothly by marshalling the athletes and making sure that the needs of officials were met.
Team NILA volunteers (in orange) in action. Photo: Sport Singapore
Their spirit of volunteerism may not always be seen in action but we can rest assured they will endeavour to make every event at the National Stadium a memorable one.