10 Facts about Shanti Pereira, the S’porean Sprinter Who Broke National Records in Australia Games

If you haven’t heard of Shanti Pereira already, I’ve no idea where you’ve been.

Shanti Pereira is a sprinter who recently represented Singapore in the Australian Open Track and Field Championships in Brisbane and broke national records. 

This sprinting sensation is making waves in the sports world after breaking national records not once, but twice in both the 100m and 200m race in a single weekend last Sunday. 

If you haven’t read about her yet, here are ten facts you need to know about this amazing athlete.

Who is Shanti Pereira?

Born on 26 November 1996, Shanti Pereira is a Singaporean sprinter who grew up in a family of sports enthusiasts. She is the youngest of four siblings.

She first got involved in track and field when she watched her older sister compete in a race while she was a primary three student. She thus started training seriously since then.

Shanti Pereira Studied at the Singapore Management University

After getting a Diploma in Sports and Leisure Management offered jointly by Republic Polytechnic and Singapore Sports School, Shanti Pereira proceeded to study accountancy at Singapore Management University in 2017. 

Accomplishments Shocking Even For Coach

Shanti Pereira’s build-up of record-breaking performances at the recent Australian Open was groundbreaking even for her personal coach, Luis Cunha.

Describing her performance as “unbelievable” a total of nine times when speaking to The Straits Times, the former Portuguese sprinter quoted her performance as “world-class” and unprecedented for an athlete to break so many personal records in such a short period.

Besides her outstanding performance at the Australian games, Shanti Pereira is no stranger to excellence in her craft. 

In the short span of her career, she has already earned two gold, one silver and five bronze medals in the Southeast Asian Games (SEA)

Youngest Athlete to Debut at SEA

Shanti Pereira made her debut in the SEA back in 2013 at just 16 years old. She was the youngest athlete representing Singapore that year.

In just two years, she then went on to clinch a bronze medal in the 100m event during the SEA Games held in 2015. She finished third with a timing of 11.88 seconds. In the 200m final, she displayed her exceptional skills and won the gold medal, essentially setting a new national record with a timing of 23.6 seconds.

This makes her the first woman since fellow Singaporean athlete Glory Barnabas in the 1973 SEA Games to secure a gold medal for Team Singapore.

Not Always Petals And Roses For Her

However, Shanti Pereira’s journey to success was not always an easy one. Over seven years between two SEA Games, she encountered numerous obstacles such as injuries, public scrutiny, and self-doubt. 

The challenges were so daunting that the Singaporean athlete even went through an identity crisis and contemplated her future, especially after earning her accounting degree from SMU. Faced with the pressure to secure a stable job, at one point, she even thought that her athletic career would come to an end.

The added pressure of having to perform well took a toll on her mental well-being. However, with support from her loved ones, she was able to refocus on her training and personal growth as an athlete.

Breaking Records

Her hard work and determination paid off when she broke the national record for the women’s 100m event during the heats of the 2023 Australian Open.

On 2 April 2023, last Sunday, she finished the 100m race in just 11.49 seconds, beating the previous record set in 1974. That’s a total of 49 years that has passed, which is older than some of our parents! 

Fastest Woman in Singapore

But wait, there’s more. Shanti Pereira broke the national record again during the final of the women’s 200m event in the same weekend with a time of 22.89 seconds.

That’s a speed of 31.45kmh, which is faster than the speed limit on the expressway, and also technically makes her the fastest woman in Singapore.

No Stranger to Excellence

Despite being Googled more recently, Shanti Pereira has actually also represented Singapore in several other international competitions including the Commonwealth Games, Asian Athletics Championships, and Tokyo Olympics. 

17 years old at the time, Shanti Pereira timed 24.29 seconds at the July 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. After five years, Shanti then proceeded to come in at 11th position in the 2019 Asian Athletic Championships in Qatar, finishing the 100m race in 11.58 seconds

This shows how much she has improved over the years to be able to produce the record-breaking results she stacked at the 2023 Australian Open Track and Field Championships.

Her debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics also marked a significant milestone for female Singaporean athletes.

Since the 1956 Melbourne Olympics where fellow athlete Mary Klass set a record of 12.6 seconds in the women’s 200m heats, no other Singaporean woman has qualified for the Olympic Games in the short-sprint distance events.

After a whopping 64 years, Shanti Pereira went on to compete in the women’s 200m heats at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With a personal season best of 23.96 seconds, she secured the sixth position in the heats. However, this record was still lower than her national record of 23.60 seconds, which she achieved while winning gold at the 2015 SEA games in Singapore. 

While the record at the Olympics may not have been her best historically, it’s safe to say that she did really well despite having not competed in a major race since the 2019 SEA games at the Philippines. 

Not a Full-Time Athlete

Despite her achievement, she’s actually not a full-time athlete.

Having always wanted to pursue a career in fashion, Shanti Pereira is now a fashion content creator at local content and media agency DC Creative. Discipline and time management are key for her as after a day of work, she would go straight into training.

Hopes to Be An Inspiration for Female Sprinters

Moving forward, Shanti Pereira hopes to be an inspiration to future sprinters and athletes, especially young girls who dream of achieving big things. She believes that people should be unafraid to pursue their goals, even if it may seem unconventional or daunting at first.

And also, you might want to be fast. Pun totally intended.