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Been There, Donetsk That

Shanti Pereira Puts Her Name To 100m, 200m National Records

There is something about the air in Donetsk, Ukraine, or perhaps, it was just meant to be for Singapore Sports School alumnus Veronica Shanti Pereira.
Going into the International Association of Athletics Federation World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Shanti had set her sights on breaking the national women’s 100m and 200m records. This year, she had been running closer and closer to Amanda Choo’s 100m record of 12.01s and Prema Govindran’s 200m mark of 24.54s. At the Singapore Athletic Association Series 1 meet on 5 January 2013, Shanti had clocked 12.16s to set a new national junior 100m record. Then, at the 8th Southeast Asian Youth Athletics Championships held in Vietnam in June, she set new national junior records in the 100m (12.05s) and 200m (24.60s) as she won two gold medals to establish herself as the best female youth sprinter in the region. Shanti was almost there and she was confident that she could break the barrier in Ukraine competing against an international field of top youth athletes. 
“There would be a greater push for me to run faster in Donetsk. I thought maybe, I could break the records there,” said Shanti, 16. On 10 July 2013, Shanti did just that when she ran 11.89s to qualify for the semi-final and become the first Singaporean woman to go under 12 seconds in the Century sprint. 
Her coach, Margaret Oh, said: “The scoreboard showed 11.89s momentarily. My heart skipped a beat. But we dare not celebrate in case there had been a technical glitch and that quick flash was a mistake. The wait for the official result felt like forever. But when it was released, Shanti let out a scream. There was an IAAF photographer nearby and he photographed her jumping up and down in celebration. She ran to hug me and gave the photographer the ‘V’ sign. I was so happy for her.”
Shanti added: “The feeling of breaking the national record was just amazing. I couldn’t believe that it actually happened but I was really happy that it did because I achieved what my coach and I set out to do at this championships.” 

Shanti clocked 11.96s to finish 4th in her semi-final and 13th overall. The top qualifier for the final was Ariana Washington from the United States who clocked 11.48s and the last to make the race was Jessie Maduka from Germany who clocked 11.77s. The final was won by Ky Westbrook of USA in 11.33s; she had qualified for the final with the third-best timing of 11.52s. Ariana finished second in the final in 11.40s.
Shanti’s experience at the IAAF World Youth Championships did not end with the 100m event. She still had Prema Govindran’s 29-year-old 200m record to break. She went extremely close, equalling Prema’s time of 24.54s (-0.1 wind) to qualify for the semi-final. As luck would have it, hers was the only semi-final race where there was a strong headwind blowing (-3.1 wind) and she completed her race in 24.76s, to rank overall 17th.
Shanti can take pride that she is now the national record holder of the women’s 100m event and joint record holder of the 200m. 

Shanti’s 11.89s feat in the 100m has also rewritten the National Junior Record, Under 19, Under 21 and Under 23 Records for the event; her 24.54s for the 200m also rewrote the National Youth Record and equalled the National Junior Record, Under 19, Under 21 and Under 23 Records for that event.
Shanti’s next target is to help the women’s 4x400m relay team qualify for December’s Naypyidaw 2013 Southeast Asian Games.