Mezbah Ahmed and Shirin Akter of Bangladesh Navy continued their supremacy in the track by retaining gold medals in the men’s and women’s 100-metre sprint events of the 13th National Summer Athletic Championship on Saturday.
The two-day long meet ended with Bangladesh Army retaining their top position in the medals tally with a total of 48 medals including 18 gold, 17 silver and 13 bronze medals.
Bangladesh Navy finished runners-up with 33 medals including 12 gold, 11, silver and 10 bronze medals.
Around 450 male and female athletes fought for 50 gold medals but none of them could set a new national record this year.
Moreover, most of the old faces dominated their respective events which bring a bleak picture of country’s athletics.
Mezbah, who won his maiden gold medal in the 2013 Bangladesh Games, tasted his sixth successive gold in the 100-metre sprint, including one in Bangladesh Games, three in national meet, and two summer meet.
With this year’s gold, Mezbah was just one shy of former sprinter Mosarraf Hossain Shamim’s record of seven gold medals.
Shamim won seven successive gold medals from 1976 to 1983.
The 27-year old sprinter, who represented Bangladesh in several international meets over the period, most notably in 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, clocked 10.80 seconds to win the gold.
Mezbah’s team-mate Shah Emran claimed the silver medal clocking 10.90 seconds while Shariful Islam of Bangladesh Army finished third with 11.10 seconds.
Even though Mezbah thought he touched Shamim’s feat, his former BKSP coach Abdullah Hel Kafi rectified his mistake immediately.
‘I actually took part in this meet only to touch the record of Shamim sir,’ Mezbah said.
‘But Kafi sir told me that Shamim sir won seven gold medals. So, I will try my best to pass the feat before my retirement.’
Mezbah said he didn’t want to make any mistakes before taking part in the next month’s World Athletics Championship in London.
‘I’m leaving the country for World Championship on August 1. If I’d made any mistake today, it would be a setback to my participation in the World Championship.’
Mezbah, who clocked 10.88 seconds in the Asian Athletic Championships in India earlier this month, said it was all but impossible for him to improve his timing in the old track of the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
‘I’m not satisfied with my timing but at the same time it is not possible to produce great timing on this track because it has became old and slow,’ he said.
Shirin also beat her team-mate Sohagi Akter to claim her fifth gold medal including three in the national meet and two in the summer meet.
Shirin clocked 12.30 seconds to become fastest women of the nation while Sohagi took 12.40 seconds to claim the silver and Susmita Gosh of Army managed the bronze medal.
Shirin, who tasted her first national gold in the 2014 summer meet, failed to surpass her best timing of 11.84 seconds that she set in 2014.
‘I feel really good to become the fastest women of the country for the fifth time,’ said Shirin.
‘I was training at the BKSP for quite a while under Kafi Sir. I believe I can improve my timing in the upcoming events at home and abroad.’
Meanwhile, 2010 SA Games silver medallist Sumita Rani of Bangladesh Jail regained her women’s 110-metre hurdles gold medal clocking 15.30 seconds.
Sumita, who is considered the best ever women’s hurdler of the nation for her outstanding record of 12 gold medals, took part in the competition after a hamstring injury that ruled her out from the track for two years.
‘I’m happy with my performance after returning from the injury,’ said Sumita, who was still hopeful to win the SA Games gold that she rarely missed seven years ago.
‘I still believe that I have ability to pass my personal best if I would get proper training facilities.’
Another 2010 SA Games medal winner Al Amin Hossain won the long jump gold medal after covering 7.36-metre, .04 clear of Robiul Islam of Bangladesh Army.
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