By AFTAR SINGH
KUALA LUMPUR: Veteran Noraseela Khalid saved Malaysia the blushes when she bagged a silver in the women’s 400m hurdles in the Asian Track and Field (ATF) Championships in Guangzhou, China, yesterday.
It was the country’s only medal after four days of competition. In Amman, Jordan, two years ago, Malaysian won two gold medals.
The 30-year-old, who skipped the last ATF meet because of injury, clocked 57.15 to finish behind Japan’s Satomi Kubokura (56.62). Natalya Asanova (59.37) of Uzbekistan took bronze.
However, Noraseela, who also won a silver in the ATF in Incheon, South Korea in 2005, was more than a second slower than her national record of 56.02.
Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union (MAAU) deputy president Karim Ibrahim said in a telephone interview yesterday that Noraseela’s six-month training stint in South Africa early this year had paid off.
“Although she is 30, she is still one of the top 400m hurdlers in Asia,” said Karim.
“We are happy that she bagged the silver medal to overcome Roslinda (Samsu) and Lee’s (Hup Wei) failures to defend their gold medals in the women’s pole vault and men’s high jump events.
“Noraseela will definitely be the favourite for the gold medal in the Laos SEA Games next month.”
Roslinda, who won the gold medal in Jordan with a height of 4.20m, could only clear 3.60m on Thursday to finish fifth out of eight vaulters.
Asian champion Hup Wei was also a huge letdown at the ATF yesterday, finishing a disappointing fifth with a poor height of 2.15m.
Hup Wei, trained by Cuban Jose Luis Alforo, failed to clear 2.20m in all three attempts.
His effort was way off the 2.24m he did in Jordan and his national record of 2.27m, which he set in the China Open last year to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.
Today is the last day of the meet and only the men’s 4x400m team of Mohd Zaiful Zainal Abidin, Mohd Zafril Mohd Zuslaini, P. Yuvaaraj and Mohd Imran Hadi will be in action.