Singapore gets first Asian Games athletics gold since 1974, as sprint queen Shanti Pereira wins 200m race, after her 100m silver

In the storybook of Asian athletics, Indian-origin Singaporean sprinter Veronica Shanti Pereira has just written the most amazing chapter on success. She has given Singapore its first Asian Games track & field gold medal in nearly 50 years, winning the 200m race yesterday in Hangzhou, China, just a couple of days after taking silver in the 100m dash.

The triumphant performance of Veronica Shanti Pereira has brought pride and joy to Indians and Indian-origin Singaporeans. Photo courtesy: X/@jon_selvaraj

Singaporeans from all ethnic groups, especially those of Indian origin, erupted in joy on social networks. Deepanraj Ganesan (@deeppaann) said on X (formerly Twitter): “Simply unreal. This will take some time to sink in. Shanti Pereira is an Asian Games gold medallist. First Athletics gold medal at the Asiad for Singapore since 1974. Champion. Our very own.”

Also on X, Jonathan Selvaraj (@jon_selvaraj) cheekily claimed “this medal for India”, citing the Kerala roots of Shanti Pereira.

For the winner herself, this landmark victory brought a flood of feelings. “Give me five minutes. There are a lot of things I would like to say. I won!” she was quoted by CNA as saying to Asian Games volunteers.

Also read: Singapore athlete Shanti Pereira makes history, taking gold in 100m sprint after her 200m win at SEA Games 2023

Won, and how! Not so long ago viewed as an athlete whose best days were behind her, Shanti Pereira has literally stormed back into the headlines this year, winning a double gold (100m and 200m) at the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) 2023 in May, held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She again won a sprint double at the Asian Athletics Championships in July, held in Bangkok, Thailand.

The 200m race has become the crowning glory for Shanti Pereira — she won it in July at the Mittsommernacht Athletics meet in Berlin, Germany; and in August at the Folksam Grand Prix in Malmö, Sweden.

At the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre stadium, Shanti raced to the 200m finish line with a timing of 23.03 seconds, only slightly longer than her personal best of 22.57 seconds in the 200m race.

She was followed by Li Yuting of China (silver; 23.28 seconds) and Edidiong Odiong of Bahrain (bronze; 23.48 seconds).

Sprints at the international championship levels are a very closely fought battle, and Shanti missed the 100m Asiad gold by only 0.04 seconds, losing to Ge Manqi of China.

These stellar performances by Shanti have fulfilled the decades-old longing in Singaporean hearts for a track & field gold medal at the Asian Games. Chee Swee Lee of Singapore had given this tiny nation its first Asiad gold at the 1974 Games in Teheran, Iran, winning the women’s 400m race.

Shanti’s back-to-back podium finish also fills the gap left in Singapore sport by the absence of swimmer Joseph Schooling, the 2016 Olympic gold medallist — Singapore’s first Olympic gold — in the 100m butterfly race. Schooling withdrew from the SEA Games this year and was not included in the Asian Games squad. But right now, the Singapore flag is flying high in the hands of Shanti Pereira.