She once ruled the tracks as one of the nation’s finest hurdlers.
Noraseela Khalid has come a long way since her first gold medal in the 400m hurdles at the 1999 SEA Games in Brunei.
She has since had podium finishes at the Asian Championships and 2006 Doha Asian Games and last won gold at the 2011 Palembang SEA Games. Noraseela hung her spikes after the 2012 Olympics in London.
Today, the athletics coach is back in training with the aim of representing Malaysia in a modern pentathlon event – laser run.
Although first contested at the 1912 Olympics, modern pentathlon’s sub-sports will feature for the first time at the SEA Games in the Philippines from Nov 30 to Dec 10. Six gold medals are up for grabs in the laser run (individual men, women and mixed team) and modern triathle (individual men, women and mixed team).
The 39-year-old started working out in Pattaya, Thailand in April together with Travis Ong, Mohd Sulaiman Mohd Rizam, a 15-year-old student at Cempaka International School, and coach Alexander Jordanov Kozovski. The national modern pentathlon team is expected to return on Monday.
So how does it feel like competing for the country after a seven-year hiatus?
“There’s no stress at all,” said Noraseela in jest.
“I’m happy to be part of this sport. It’s a new skill, completely different from what I’m used to.”
Noraseela admitted modern pentathlon requires a lot of resources but hopes the sport will gain momentum in Malaysia.
“I’m part of the sport due to several reasons … firstly to help promote the sports. Also, I want to see more women representing the national contingent at the Manila SEA Games.”
She paid credit to the Malaysian Modern Pentathlon Federation, especially its president Peggy Lim and secretary-general Vivien Chen.
“The federation is trying its level best to promote the sport but it could certainly do with more help from all parties involved. It is an Olympic sport that has been around for a long time and has evolved over the decades.
“It’s high time we took this sport seriously in this region, including in Malaysia.