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Singapore's Shanti Pereira talks disappointments and her Olympic dream

by SuperiorInvest

Shanti Pereira of Singapore celebrates winning the women's 200 meters athletics final during the 19th Asian Games at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center on October 2, 2023.

Nurfoto | Nurfoto | fake images

Southeast Asia's fastest woman Shanti Pereira is a household name in Singapore after winning the country's first medal in 49 years at last year's Asian Games, but it wasn't easy getting there.

The 28-year-old track and field athlete, often known as Singapore's sprint queen, took home a gold in the women's 200m race and a silver in the 100m race at the Asian Games.

He now has his eyes set on the Paris Olympics in July and is training hard in the United States for it.

But getting this far was not without numerous falls.

Pereira told CNBC that one of the “most difficult parts” of his career was when he suffered a hamstring injury in 2018 that derailed his training. As a result, he was unable to advance beyond the Asian Games qualifiers that year.

That resulted in him losing the Sports Excellence scholarship and, in the same week, the Yip Pin Xiu scholarship, Singapore Management University's first full sports scholarship, was also taken from his hands when his grades dropped.

The following years were a struggle for Pereira.

“My energy was very focused on what other people thought of me and comparing me to my competitors. But I realized that it didn't make any sense, because these people have nothing to do with my life, my journey and my successes ”

The turning point came in 2022. Three weeks before the Southeast Asian Games, he finally broke out of that downward spiral.

“I got really fed up and decided I had to stop feeling sorry for myself because it wasn't getting me anywhere.”

Although she did not win any medals at that year's games, she did win two gold medals at the 2023 SEA Games.

The same year, Pereira broke the national record in the 100 m dash six times and in the 200 m race four times.

Sha'Carri Richardson of the USA flanked by Shanti Pereira of Singapore and Shericka Jackson of Jamaica in the third heat of the women's 200 meters semi-finals during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on August 24, 2023.

Tim Clayton – Corbis | Corbis Sport | fake images

Although the hardships were painful and took “many, many years to overcome,” Pereira said they helped her become who she is today.

“You build character and resilience through such experiences. It was difficult, but I wouldn't take back anything that happened as it made me the person I am today and the athlete I am today.”

“I can't imagine doing anything else,” he added. “Athletics is part of who I am and I felt like I have a lot more to give to the sport.”

A model to follow

Pereira's love of sports began when she was 9 years old, after taking home her first two medals at her school's annual Sports Day race in 2005.

It wasn't until 2015 that he made a name for himself in regional sporting circles, winning the gold medal in the 200 meter race at the Southeast Asian Games.

Today, he is an inspiration to younger athletes who hope to achieve the same feat one day.

“It's great that my achievements have had such an incredible impact on many Singaporeans,” he told CNBC, highlighting that it is important for young athletes to work hard and pursue their passion.

“To anyone who looks up to me and wants to do what I do now, the best advice I can give you is to work hard and create a situation where you can train and recover properly.”

“This is not easy to do in Singapore as it is very normal to juggle many different things at once,” he added. “But if you really have a passion for this and you feel like you can get somewhere with this, you have to make that sacrifice.”

Shanti Pereira of Singapore celebrates winning the women's 200 meters athletics final during the Asian Games in Hangzhou on October 2, 2023.

William West | afp | fake images

When asked who inspired her, the first name that came to mind was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, the “fastest man in the world.”

“His feats are incredible. He was able to forget about all the pressure he was under and just show up and perform during the Olympics,” he said.

“Your head has to be really strong to be able to do that, and it's really crazy.”

Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Pereira will remain in the United States for the next two months as he works to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

This will be his second stab at the Olympic Games, after participating in the Tokyo Games in 2021.

Being in the United States gives him the “perfect environment” to get in as many quality training sessions as possible, he said, since most of the day revolves around training and recovery.

“Last year I had to prepare for many more important competitions, but this year I only have one, which is the ideal situation and makes the training process different.”

“I'm ready and excited and I'll do everything I can, everything I can, to do my best,” she said, touching the Olympics tattoo near her right wrist.

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