Bangladesh celebrated a rare successful day in the 13th South Asian Games in Kathmandu on Saturday, winning three gold medals and handful of silver medals to ease the pressure on the officials.
The country can expect a few more gold medals today when archery players will finally begin their gold hunt in Pokhara, a popular trail in the Himalayas and major tourist attraction of Nepal.
Bangladesh have reached in the final of all 10 events in archery and are favourites to win all of them in the absence of main rivals India, who are suspended by World Archery Federation for internal dispute.
Bangladesh are also favourites to win gold medal in women’s cricket, where they will face Sri Lanka in the final today at the same city.
The officials of the Bangladesh Olympic Association, who sent their largest ever contingent in the SA Games comprising over 600 athletes and coaches, were eagerly waiting for archery and cricket finals for some face-saving gold medals.
Three consecutive days without any gold medal put the officials at unease before two gold medals came from weightlifting and one followed from fencing, a discipline included in the meet for the first time.
It was a familiar face on the podium as Mabia Akter Simanta ended Bangladesh’s gold drought by winning the day’s first gold when she lifted 185kg in women’s 76kg weight category.
Mabia also won medal in the previous SA Games in Guwahati India, albeit in different weight category, which means she is now the first Bangladeshi athlete to win gold from consecutive meets in the new millennium.
Despite Mabia’s winning of gold in the previous meet, Bangladesh Weightlifting Federation kept their expectations checked and did not spoke very highly about their prospect.
They were rewarded for their perseverance as Ziarul Islam joined Mabia soon, winning the day’s second gold medal in men’s 96kg category by lifting 262kg in his first appearance in SA Games.
‘I am really happy to win gold medal because I worked really hard for it,’ Ziarul told reporters after his gold-winning feat. ‘I was confident about getting some success here, but not sure if we would win gold. In sports nobody can guarantee this,’ said Ziarul, who started weightlifting only in 2010.
The success of weightlifting did not end up just winning gold medals as Bangladesh’s Monirul Islam and Juhora Khaton Nisha won two silver medals in men’s 102kg weight category and women’s 81kg weight category respectively.
Nisha lifted 168kg to fell way behind Sharsti Singh (190kg) of India while Mainul, who lifted total 250kg, lost to Pakistan’s Usman Amjad (330kg).
Just when Bangladesh was celebrating the success in weightlifting they got an unexpected gold medal from fencing with 20-year old Fatima Mujib beating Nepali competitor Rabina Thapa in women’s individual sabre event.
‘I’m really proud to win Bangladesh’s first gold in fencing… This is my best moment of my career,’ said Fatima, who celebrated her 20th birthday with the gold medal.
Bangladesh also came close to winning two gold medals in swimming only to settle with silvers as Ariful Islam (28.06sec) finished behind India’s Likith Prema (28.06) in men’s 50m breaststroke and Jewel Ahmed finished behind India’s Sridhar Shiva in men’s 400m individual medley.
Rimi Sarkar won a silver medal for Bangladesh in women’s 55kg wrestling while the biggest disappointment came in 10m air rifle shooting mixed event, where Abdullah Hel Baki and Atkia Hasan settled only for a silver medal.
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