KUALA LUMPUR: The performance of hurdler Noraseela Khalid in the Vietnam SEA Games has impressed German coach Idriss Gonchinska. And he believes that Noraseela has a good chance of qualifying for next year's Athens Olympics.
Gonchinska, who had trained Noraseela at the Leipzig Training Centre in Germany for six months, is in Malaysia with seven German athletes for a stint, which is part of their preparations for the Olympics.
The 36-year-old Gonchinska said at the National Sports Council (NSC) training track in Bukit Jalil yesterday: She has improved in her techniques and succeeded in regaining her status as the best 400m women's hurdler in South-East Asia.
After playing second fiddle to Thailand's Wassana Winatho for the past two years, Noraseela turn the tables on her rival in the Vietnam Games, clinching the gold medal in 57.62. Wassana clocked 57.78 to bag the silver.
Noraseela has shattered her national record four times in three months since training under Gonchinska in March. Her best effort to date was a 56.90, clocked at the World University Games in Daegu, South Korea, in September.
In her gold-medal winning effort at the 1999 SEA Games in Brunei Noraseela clocked a 58.70. In the stint in Germany this year, she has done 58.40 (May), 58.23 (July) and 57.00 (August).
If she continues training in Germany, I am confident that she can beat the Olympic category B qualifying mark of 56.25, said Gonchinska.
However the 24-year-old Noraseela wants to complete her studies first before thinking about another stint in Germany.
Noraseela, who is majoring human development at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), said that she had skipped one semester in March to train in Germany.
This is my last semester and I want to graduate by March next year. I can only go to Germany in early April with a hope to qualify for the Olympics by July, said Noraseela.
Meanwhile, all seven track and field athletes who bagged gold medals in the Vietnam Games, received rewards from construction company Lankhorst Sdn Bhd yesterday.
Sprinter Nazmizan Mohamed, who won the 100m and 200m, received a total of RM10,000 fro the company's deputy chairman Datuk Mohamed Aris Zainuddin during a Hari Raya celebration at the Sports Ministry yesterday.
The others received RM1,000 each. They were decathlete Malik Tobias, Loo Kum Zee (high jump), Mohd Syarul Amri (long jump), Mohd Shahrulhaizy Abdul Rahman (20km walk), Noraseela Khalid (400m hurdles) and Yuan Yufang (20km walk).