HANGZHOU - After crossing the line at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium on Friday (Sept 29), Shanti Pereira glanced up at the screen, unsure if she had qualified for the women's 100m final.
She had clocked 11.42 seconds to finish third in Heat 2, behind Bahrain's Hajar Saad Al-Khaldi (11.34sec) and Thailand's Supanich Poolkerd (11.36sec).
With the top two from each heat qualifying directly for Saturday's final along with the next two fastest runners in the heats, Pereira had to wait to see if she made the cut.
She lingered on the track for a little longer, but as she made her way to the mixed zone, she cut a composed and calm figure.
In the end, the Singaporean made it through as she and Vietnam's Tran Thi Nhi Yen (11.59sec in Heat 1) sealed the last two spots.
Pereira, 27, finished sixth overall in the heats which were topped by China's Ge Manqi, who recorded a blistering 11.17sec to eclipse Pereira's fastest time in 2023 of 11.20sec.
Behind Ge were Al-Khaldi and her compatriot and defending champion Edidiong Ofonime Odiong, who also clocked 11.34sec.
While she had not looked at the times, Pereira was not surprised by the level of competition.
She said: "All the Chinese, Bahrain and Iranian girls... I expected very quick times from them so let's just see how the next round and the 200m goes."
Her teammate Elizabeth-Ann Tan (12.00) was fourth in Heat 3 and did not progress to the final.
This will be Pereira's first appearance in an Asian Games final. The furthest she had gone previously was reaching the 200m semi-finals at the 2018 edition in Indonesia.
Pereira has had a stellar season so far and in July, made history by winning the 100m and 200m titles at the Asian Athletics Championships in Bangkok.
There are expectations of her to replicate the feat here but Pereira is staying grounded. She said: "I'm just enjoying the whole process of just being here. I had the best time coming in so it was a pleasant experience, I'm just happy to be racing and doing both events."
Fellow Singaporean Marc Louis qualified for the men's 100m semi-finals with his personal best of 10.38sec in the heats, which is just 0.01sec slower than UK Shyam's national mark of 10.37 set in 2001.
He finished 14th overall, while teammate Mark Lee posted 10.68sec to place 31st. China's Xie Zhenye was quickest in 10.07sec. In the 400m, Thiruben Thana Rajan managed a PB of 47.26sec to finish 15th.
Louis, 21, said: "It's good because I've been equalling my PB (10.39sec) so to see a different time is nice... It's a good sign that I'm still able to be at this level, to be consistent and maybe soon I'll get the national record."
China snagged four of the five golds available on the first day of the athletics competition. Zhang Jun and 2017 world champion Yang Jiayu triumphed in the men and women's 20km race walk events respectively.
Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Wang Zheng then took the women's hammer throw title with a 71.53m effort, while reigning shot put Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion Gong Lijiao retained her crown with a 19.58m throw.
Bahrain's Violah Jepchumba prevented the clean sweep as she won the 10,000m in a personal best of 31min 43.73sec. She said: "It wasn't easy but I'm happy, it was a neat finish."