5 Times ‘Sprint Queen’ Shanti Pereira Proved Her Mettle
Athlete Shanti Pereira has been setting the track on fire this year, breaking records left and right.
Most recently, the 26-year-old clinched the coveted top spot on the Asian Games podium in the women’s 200m sprint.
Her stellar performance in 2023 was a result of hard work and a stubborn refusal to give up.
As it turns out, Singapore’s 21st-century Sprint Queen had her fair share of struggles like any mere mortal.
In 2018, Shanti — a university student at the time — lost two scholarships within a week, but bounced back stronger than ever.
1. Insisted to pursue her sport in Singapore Sports School
Shanti’s love for the sport began in primary school when she was a rising track star at CHIJ Katong Convent.
At 12, she already knew that running was more than just a co-curricular activity.
She told her parents that she wanted to attend the Singapore Sports School, and despite their reservations, they agreed.
“I wanted to go to the sports school because my sister went there,” said Shanti in a 2015 interview.
“My sister Valerie was in the first intake of the sports school. We always went to support her during competitions. It made me want to join track and field.” And she did just that.
2. Shanti Pereira became Singapore’s fastest woman at 17
Shanti began representing Singapore at overseas competitions, winning two events at the Thailand Sports School Games at 12.
In the National School Games, she set multiple records, reported Prestige Online.
She continued to perform exceptionally on the international stage at track meets and competitions like the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
Shanti then became the fastest woman in Singapore at 17 years old when she ran a 200m event at the 2014 Asian Junior Athletics Championships in 23.99 seconds.
The rest, as they say, was history, and she continued doing well — breaking her own national record at the 2015 SEA Games.
Unfortunately for Shanti, her good run of victories would soon come to a temporary halt.
3. Sustained hamstring injury in 2018
In a podcast with Class 95’s DJ Jean Danker, Shanti shared that she was “pretty badly injured” at the start of 2018.
She suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain, leading her to miss about a month of training.
Shanti noted that it was a massive setback to her progress, especially since she had competitions to train for — like the Asian Games.
After taking some time to rest and heal, the sprinter returned to the track, only for the injury to resurface during a training session.
Shanti then realised that things would not work out for her that year.
“I will try my best to get back in shape, but there wasn’t enough time,” she said.
At the time, it was less than two months before the Asian Games.
4. Lost two scholarships that same year
As a result of her injury, Shanti could not perform her best at the 2018 Asian Games.
She failed to win a medal for Singapore and, as such, lost her spot in the Sports Excellence Scholarship programme.
Shanti received the scholarship in 2016 and was a Year 2 undergraduate student at Singapore Management University (SMU) when they retracted her scholarship.
“It was one of the hardest things I had to go through, just to find that confidence again was just hard”, she confessed.
That was not the end of her struggles, though. Shanti also lost her Yip Pin Xiu Scholarship — which, according to 8Days, meant that her education at SMU was no longer sponsored.
According to Shanti, her GPA had not met the minimum requirements.
5. Sprint Queen Shanti Pereira faced an identity crisis after graduating
However, not all was lost. The sprinter stuck through her accountancy studies and graduated in 2021.
Though this is a milestone for many people in their 20s, Shanti continued to struggle up until early 2022.
She previously shared that she had an identity crisis and wasn’t sure about a career path as an accountant. She said:
“If I’m not the Sprint Queen anymore, then who am I?”
Speaking to The Straits Times (ST), Shanti’s father, Clarence Pereira, said the family was aware of Shanti’s struggles.
They supported her through her self-doubt and ignored naysayers who called her a “has been”.
“The most important thing is that she did not quit. She did not give up. Whatever that was said about her, her style or training methods, she kept going, and she said she will persevere and continue,” said Clarence.
Shanti Pereira persevered to become Singapore’s Sprint Queen
It goes without saying that being a professional athlete comes with a set of challenges that not many can understand.
In deciding to pursue athletics professionally at a very young age, Shanti had to embrace the pressure as a part of the process.
Apart from having to perform and win medals, athletes show up day in and day out for gruelling training sessions while trying to keep fit.
Though Shanti faced a breaking point in 2018, she turned her luck around by simply persevering through the pain.
Now, the Sprint Queen is seeing a resurgence of her glory days — and we hope she’ll continue to shine for many years to come.
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