SINGAPORE: 2023 is undoubtedly the best year of Shanti Pereira’s athletic career. This year, the 27-year-old runner has brought home medal after medal, accolade after accolade, and has won hearts not only in Singapore but also around the region and the rest of the globe.

Shanti’s stellar year began in March when she broke her 100-meter record at the New Zealand Track and Field Championships, a feat she repeated shortly afterwards at the Australia Open. She did the same with the 200-meter race at the Brisbane Track Class on Mar 25. That month, she ranked number one in Asia in the women’s 100-meter rankings.

In May, she bagged golds in the 100-meter and 200-meter events at the SEA Games, the first Singaporean woman to do so. Two months later, she won both events again at the Asian Athletics Championships, a feat she followed up by taking the gold home in the 200-meter race at the Mittsommernacht Athletics in Germany, and won the event again at the Folksam Grand Prix in Sweden, where she also took home the silver for the 100-meter race.

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At the Asian Games on Sept 29, she won the silver in the 100-meter race but went on to win the 200-meter race, the first time in almost 50 years that a Singaporean brought home a gold medal in track and field at the Asian Games.

So what’s next for Asia’s Sprint Queen? Is she ready to hang up her running shoes any time soon?

Not a chance. As for now, she’s still thankful for and awed by the incredible year that was. “Four majors in a year is not easy, so to maintain that level of recovery was essential. Just coming off a very long year, it’s truly amazing, I’m still kind of walking on air a little bit,” she was quoted as saying on Olympics.com.

One major thing coming up for the runner is the Paris Olympics, which is only seven months away.

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Shanti is the first Singaporean to qualify for the 200-meter event, running the race in the required 22.57 standard seconds at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest on Aug 23.

“Hitting that standard makes it different than the planning because I don’t have to constantly try and hit that qualifying mark, which would probably mean I would have to start the summer season earlier. So I can start a little bit later.

There are definitely a lot of things I can still improve on just in terms of the technique and how I run the curve, how I come out on the straight and things like that. And most important, how my form is, especially towards the end of the race.”

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