Me And My Car

Racing through life

Teacher Nurulaini Ariffin with her Megane GT Line.
Teacher Nurulaini Ariffin with her Megane GT Line.PHOTO: NURULAINI ARIFFIN, SENDERSEN ZENG

Renault Megane hatchback makes sprinter-turned-teacher Nurulaini Ariffin feel like a race car driver

Retired national sprinter Nurulaini Ariffin fell in love with the new Renault Megane when she saw the Megane RS265 Cup Red Bull edition in an episode of Top Gear.

So, when the sportily styled Megane GT Line became available here two years ago, she bought one. She paid $115,000.

The 40-year-old teacher recalls: "I drove the car out of the showroom on my birthday."

Ms Nurulaini adores the car's looks and how it makes her feel behind the wheel.

"I feel like a race car driver, especially with the racing seats and Alcantara finish," the 1997 SEA Games bronze medallist says.

Nicknamed "White Martian" by her 13-year-old son, the turbodiesel Megane GT Line sees to the family's commuting needs, although Ms Nurulaini says she has priority to the key over her husband, 47-year-old sales consultant Sendersen Zeng.

They clock 200 to 250km a week, which is less than the national average of 300km.

Even though she was bowled over by the sizzling Megane RS265 Cup, she does not intend to soup up her more modest variant.

  • What is in the boot?

    • A pair of gym shoes

    • A car caddy containing a Totoro pillow, car cleaning kit, picnic mat, towel and Pound Ripstix (drumsticks used for a cardio workout routine)

Ms Nurulaini sends the car for regular servicing, but like many petrolheads, is sensitive to changes in the way it performs.

"If anything sounds or feels different, I know something is up," she says.

This sensitivity extends to her professional life. The Curtin University graduate teaches physical education at Northlight School, which caters to children with special academic needs.

"My students come from less privileged backgrounds," she says. "I believe that they should have an equal chance to discover their potential and to live fulfilling lives as useful citizens."

She motivates them by telling them that "no matter how slow they are at making progress, they will still be ahead of anyone who does not even try".

She should know. She recalls being one of the slowest runners in primary school.

Besides her full-time job, Ms Nurulaini is a busy volunteer.

She is a volunteer special constabulary Traffic Police officer. She is also an official and coach for the Singapore Para Athletes team and was involved in the recent World Para Athletics Grand Prix 2019 held in Tunisia.

Later this month, she will assume the role of chief of communications for the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix. She started volunteering as a Formula One observer in 2009 and has been assigned various roles over the years.

As the first woman grand prix communications chief here, she reckons that women "probably have to work a little harder to earn the respect".

"But we are also blessed to be able to leave a bigger impression," she adds.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2019, with the headline 'Racing through life'. Print Edition | Subscribe