Mezbah, Shirin complete Rio lineup

Staff Correspondent
Mezbah, Shirin

A file picture taken from September 12, 2015 shows Bangladesh fastest man Mezbahuddin Ahmed (R) and woman Shirin
Akter. — New Age photo

Both Mezbahuddin Ahmed and Shirin Akter promised to give their best in the forthcoming Rio Olympics after the International Association of Athletics Federations granted them wild-card entries late on Monday.
The wild-cards came at a time when the duo all but lost their hopes following the expiry of deadline on July 14.
The Bangladesh Olympic Association was also about to scrap their tickets’ booking and suspend other arrangements before they surprisingly got the good news on Monday night.
An e-mail of International Olympic Committee to BOA at 11:46pm confirmed their entry, leaving the athletes overjoyed.
‘I almost gave up hopes,’ said Mezbah. ‘I felt bad when I thought I could not participate in Olympics despite being country’s fastest man for four times.’
Sihrin, who will become only the second female sprinter from the country to participate in Olympics, said it was like a dream come true.
‘After giving up hopes when I got the news last night, I could not sleep due to the excitement,’ said the Bangladesh Navy athlete.
Mezbah and Shirin completed Bangladesh contingent for the August 5-21 event, making it to seven athletes, the largest ever for Bangladesh in an Olympics.
Bangladesh, who sent five athletes in London 2012, got six wild-cards for Mezbah, Shirin, shooter Abdullah Hel Baki, archer Shamoly Roy and swimmers Mahfizur Rahman Sagar and Sonia Akter while golfer Siddikur Rahman qualified directly being country’s first ever athlete.
Mezbah and Shirin both trained with Bangladesh Navy for the last few months since the last South Asian Games with an aspiration to join the greatest game show on earth.
Mezbah clocked 10.72 seconds in SA Games and he wanted to improve that.
‘My only target is to put my previous record behind,’ Mezbah told New Age on Tuesday.
‘After becoming the fastest male of the nation, I was eager to get the wild-card but I was a bit tensed before getting the confirmation.’
‘If I can run in less than 10.72 seconds I would be satisfied.’
Mezbah, who ran with Jamaican Usain Bolt during the World Athletics Championship in 2015 in China, is eager to meet his role model once again in Rio.
‘It was a dream come true for me when I met Bolt,’ said the sprinter, adding that, ‘This time I am really excited to meet some other world stars like Tyson Gay.
‘But to be honest if we want to show a better performance, we have to work harder and we also need the facilities that the other athletes got.’
The man from Bagerhat was happy to fulfill his mother’s dream.
‘I fulfilled my mother’s first dream of becoming the nation’s best athlete and my mother also wished to see me in the Olympics. Finally, her dream came true.’
Like Mezbah, Shirin also wished to give her best by putting her previous timing behind during the games after getting a surprise wild-card.
‘In the South Asian Games, I took 11.99 seconds to finish my run which was not so impressive,’ said the athlete after a practice session at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Tuesday.
‘If I could run within 11.35 seconds, maybe I could get an Olympics quota place.’
Shirin also couldn’t hide her excitement after getting the good news late Monday night.
‘After getting the news I couldn’t believe myself and spent a sleepless night due to overexcitement,’ Shirin admitted.
‘I have all the faith on me that I will surpass my previous record in Rio.’
Both sprinters will fly here for Rio de Janeiro on August 1 with the swimming team as the world’s biggest game event gets underway from August 5.

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