When Shanti Pereira sprinted to Singapore’s first Asian Games gold in 49 years, no one was prouder than her parents watching from the stands in Hangzhou.
After her 200m victory, Pereira wrapped herself in the Singapore flag and ran into the crowd towards mum, dad and friend Tan Zong Yang, a former athlete.
27-year-old Pereira quit her job as a copywriter this year to become a full-time athlete, a leap of faith that has clearly paid off.
“So proud, so proud to see that. I just got emotional,” father Clarence said after her gold, according to Channel News Asia.
“What we hoped she would do, she did. I’m still in a daze.”
It was Singapore’s first athletics gold since the 1974 Tehran Asiad, when Chee Swee Lee won the women’s 400 metres, and only the third in history.
Mama Jeet said the tension ahead of Monday night’s race – which Pereira won in 23.03 seconds, well ahead of China’s Li Yuting in second place – was unbearable.
“Waiting for the event to happen was really nerve-wracking, prayers were really important,” she said.
Speaking about the recent move to become a professional sprinter, Pereira said: “When I got the opportunity, I jumped at it.”
The move allowed her to lower her own national record four times in 2023, from 23.46 seconds to the 22.57 seconds she ran at August’s World Championships in Budapest.
“I knew I was going to cross the line first, and I thought, ‘Oh my God,’” Pereira said of her exploits in Hangzhou.
“What a season. It was so crazy, it means a lot to me. I can’t really describe this.”
Pereira was just a hair away from double gold at the Games, being edged to 100m gold by just 0.04 seconds by China’s Ge Manqi.
Pereira said she never dreamed of two medals.
“I wanted to do this, I loved doing this, but this exact position I never thought was possible,” she said.