NURUL SUHAILA SAIFUL 27
ATHLETE, SILAT WORLD CHAMPION
You can achieve anything you want at any age. Just enjoy the process.
Singapore athlete Nurul Suhaila Saiful won her first world silat championship in 2018 at the 15th World Pencak Silat Championship in Singapore. She comes from a family of silat practitioners, joining the likes of her sister Nurul Shafiqah and brother Muhammad Nur Shafiq, who are also from the Singapore national team.
“I used to view age as a timeline for achievements in life. I always thought that the more accolades you earn at a younger age, the better it was. It was a natural thought process for me as I started combat silat training when I was just six, and then trained competitively at 11 years old.
Despite having resilience and willpower, I was overshadowed by insecurity, pressure and self-doubt. As a kid, I was constantly comparing myself to others and when I didn’t ace in a competition, I would beat myself up about that.
When I first started participating in major competitions like the SEA Games, I was only about 17 years old. I remember looking at my list of opponents and feeling inferior because of how young I was compared to them. I felt inexperienced and I let that affect my confidence.
Thankfully, I am surrounded by an excellent support system made up of my family, friends and my coach. Over the years, after witnessing so many young athletes stand at the top of the podium, I realised that age is not an excuse – I am the one holding myself back. I had to change my mindset, and that took a lot of practice.
I am happy with where I am in life at the moment. Some of the goals I set for myself at a specific age only happened a few years later. And for the goals I didn’t achieve, I learnt from it – it gave me clarity and insight for me to become better and stronger.
Over the years, my view on success and happiness changed, and so did my views on growing older. I hope that people see age as just a number. Everyone is unique, and their journey is unique. We all have different timelines. You can achieve anything you want at any age. Just enjoy the process.
For me, I feel like my best years are yet to come. Everything I want in life will happen when it’s meant to be.”