Humaira Akhter Antara could barely finish her sentences as she choked back the tears while expressing her feelings after winning Bangladesh a gold medal in women’s karate (under-61kg kumite) in the 13th South Asian Games at the Satdobato Sports Complex in Kathmandu yesterday.
The 18-year-old karateka, who had won the first medal for her country the day before, was quite restrained when expressing her feelings on that day. But after she beat Nepal’s Anu Gurung to win gold in the women’s under-61kg category, she could not complete the post-event interview as she stammered for a while before desperately trying to hold back her tears.
“I sacrificed many things, including my studies, for this sport. I missed my university admission tests just because of the SA Games preparation. If I were not playing here, I would have got admitted to a good university,” said the teenager before breaking into tears, as if all her pent-up emotions stemming from years of dedication, sacrifice and hard work had finally found a meaning.
Antara came to karate six years ago and had persevered through these years to see this day, she said, to win a medal at the South Asian Games.
Her gold medal was the third of the day for Bangladesh, which had begun with Al Amin Islam’s gold early in the morning, the Army man beating Pakistan’s participant in the final of the under-60kg category of kumite.
The second gold came soon through Marzan Akter Priya, who beat Pakistan’s Qausar Sana in the under-55kg final of kumite. Priya, another teenager like Antara, did not shed a tear but was equally reflective of her struggles to reach this stage.
“My father was against me doing karate. He wanted me to stop pursuing this sport and concentrate on studies. But now he is very happy. He even said yesterday that he expected me to bring a gold home from these Games,” said Priya.
Both girls said that they were disappointed after Monday’s results but Al Amin’s win in the morning gave them belief and pushed them to go for glory.
It was a glorious day indeed for Bangladesh’s karate, which helped the country equal their gold tally of the previous edition as early as the second medal-deciding day.
There were two more bronze medals from karate while two silver medals in shooting, one silver each in athletics and wushu helped Bangladesh’s medal tally reach 27 -- four gold, six silver and 17 bronze medals.
There were wins for the women’s cricket team and a fighting draw for the men’s football team on a day that was made golden by karate.