Ladies and gentlemen, I have great news for you: Valerie Pereira is back and looking mighty fine on the track.
The 20-year-old sprinter — who made people sit up and gape back in 2004 and 2005 with her national age-group record-breaking feats in the 200m before disappearing into oblivion — is back in action and judging from her lastest time, firmly on track to realising her potential as one of Singapore’s best female sprinters since Prema Govindan.
According to my sources, she clocked a stunning 24.86sec in the 200m heats in the Vietnam Open today to qualify for the final. That’s just 0.32sec shy of Govindan’s national 200m record of 24.54 set in 1984.
If I am not mistaken, it also makes her the first Singapore woman sprinter since Govindan to clock a sub-25sec time.
Track and field enthusiasts have been waiting far too long for Valerie to achieve this sub-25sec timing.
Many of us, in fact, thought she would do it in 2006 after she, at the tender age of just 15, recorded a new national Under-17 record of 25.14 in November 2005.
But sadly, that breakthrough never came as Valerie spent the next few years in the athletics wilderness as she lost her form and momentum, and quite possibly her motivation.
But things have been looking up for her ever since she returned from Germany at the end of 2009 (where she spent almost a year training with Rainer Paul, her former coach from the Singapore Sports School).
I understand that she’s been training with local coach and Wings Athletics Club president Melvin Tan since her return.
My sources also tell me that Tan was quietly confident that Valerie would start chalking some spectacular times by July and indeed he has been proven right.
I am so happy to see that Valerie is back. I had feared that she had burnt out and that we would never see her realise her full potential as a 200m and 400m specialist.
Valerie will be running in the 200m final tomorrow morning and I will be keeping my fingers crossed that she will break Govindan’s record. But even if she doesn’t, I will be very happy if she can clock another sub-25sec timing. Because that means that the national 20om record is going to go down sooner or later.
Great job, Valerie. All the best in the final. I can’t wait to hear from my sources tomorrow.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan
Post-script (19 July 2010):
Valerie finished third in the 100m final this morning. She clocked a very decent time of 25.18sec. My heartiest congratulations to her.