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SEA Games 2023: Shanti Pereira wins 200m gold in Cambodia for third title

PHNOM PENH – Shanti Pereira is now a three-time SEA Games champion. 

On Monday, at the Morodok Techo National Stadium, Singapore’s sprint queen blazed lane six in 22.69 seconds to win the women’s 200m final and capture her third SEA Games title. In doing so, she also obliterated Kristina Marie Knott’s Games record of 23.01sec and bettered her previous national mark of 22.89sec.

Vietnam’s Thi Nhi Yen Tran won the silver in 23.54sec and Malaysia’s Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli (23.60) took the bronze. Knott, the 2019 champion, was fourth in 23.79.

This is Pereira’s first successful defence of her Games title, adding to the 200m gold medals she won on home soil in 2015 and at the last Games in Hanoi.

This is the third time that the 26-year-old has bettered her own 200m national mark in 2023 while she has also rewritten her 100m national record thrice this year.

The Philippines’ Kayla Richardson, who was expected to be Pereira’s closest challenger in Cambodia, after she finished second to the Singaporean in Hanoi and won gold in the 100m there, pulled up halfway through Heat 1 earlier on Monday and did not finish the race, which meant she did not make the final. 

It remains to be seen if the Filipina will contest the 100m event on Friday. 

Pereira’s win in Phnom Penh comes as no surprise. She has been in the form of her life after she started full-time training in January.

Last November, national agency Sport Singapore announced that Pereira had joined the Sport Excellence (Spex) Scholarship programme, which provides financial and other support to prepare athletes to excel at major Games.

Up next for Pereira will be the 4X100m relay with her teammates before a bigger test awaits on Friday, where she will contest the 100m event. She has three bronze medals and one silver – from the last Games in that event– but has yet to taste a win.

Pereira will have her eyes set on a historic, unprecedented sprint double in the women’s 100m and 200m.

Only once have Singaporean women ever completed a sprint double. In 1973, Glory Barnabas won the 200m event while Eng Chiaw Guay won the 100m event. 

With one win in the bag, Pereira is on track to do it on her own and cement her legacy in Singapore sports.