100m looks distant
Bangladesh Athletic Fede-ration (BAF) has a history of producing the fastest man in South Asian (SA) Federation Games that even the regional superpower India can envy.
In the last ten editions Bangladesh won the blue riband event four times with country's legendary sprinter Shah Alam clinching it twice in Dhaka 1985 and in Kolkata 1987. Bimal Chandra Tarafdar emerged from nowhere to win the 100m sprint in Colombo 1991 before Mahabub Alam matched the feat of his predecessors in 1993 on home soil.
However, as the country is set to stage the regional showpiece event for the third time from January 29 to February 9, the man who himself won it twice and now holds the chief executive's post of the BAF almost dismissed the chances of winning a gold in the most coveted track and field event.
Though the performances of the Bangladesh athletes were inspiring in the beginning of the regional meet, their presence could hardly be felt after 1993. They failed to even manage a single medal in athletics in Islamabad 2004. They restored some pride in the next edition in Colombo 2006 winning one gold and two silver.
This time, they are determined to clinch two gold medals -- the 100m women's hurdles, an event never won by Bangladesh, and 4X100m men's relay, an event in which Bangladesh won gold in the inaugural meet in Nepal in 1984.
"I know the focus of everyone will be on the 100m sprint in the Games. But those who were our better performers in this event stayed back for better fortunes whenever they were sent abroad for better training," said Shah Alam while announcing the squad for the 11th SA Games at the newly-built Bangladesh Olympic Association Bhaban yesterday.
He however said that Golam Mortaza has done well in the trials and if he can slash 0.10 second from his own mark, he can be a good prospect for winning a medal, if not gold.
But it was not all bleak for athletics as its officials, for a change, are hoping to win gold in the women's section.
"Sumita Rani is a bright prospect for winning the women's 100m hurdles. She has improved a lot ever since she won the silver behind India's Anuradha Biswal during the Colombo Games," said coach Kitab Ali.
Sumita finished 0.08 seconds behind Anuradha Biswal (14.28 seconds) in Colombo. Sumita set a national record in the Summer Meet last year with 13.80 seconds and the coach claimed that she has hit 13.60 seconds in the last trial at BKSP. However the coach lamented for not having an electronic scoreboard that deprived them of assessing the real timing of the athletes.
"Time and again we had requested the National Sport Council to install the device so that the athletes could take part in the Games knowing their real time, but the NSC is now saying that the electronic device will be ready before the start of the Games," Alam said acidly.
"In the relay, the boys have been doing better. We are very pleased that they are changing the batons quickly and almost flawlessly in recent times. So we are expecting a gold medal from them," said Ali adding that Golam Mortaza, Masudul Karim, Khalilur Rahman and Mizanur Rahman or Asadul Islam would team up to fight for gold.
Coach Kitab also said that jumper Sajib Hossain has also been doing better in the event of high jump, but his performance is far behind from Sri Lanka's Asian champion jumper.
Ali also believes the slow turf at the Bangabandhu National Stadium would help the hosts' athletes rather than others, who are used to run in fast tracks.
Sprinter Nazmun Nahar Beauty, the fastest woman in the national meet who was sent to Malaysia for advanced training, might miss the Games following her hamstring injury and Shah Alam said they would wait for Beauty till January 25.
Like Athletic, Bangladesh Karate Federation president Masum Parvez Rubel vowed to present two gold medals in both men's and women's individual kata events.
"Considering the yearlong preparation, we should win gold medal this time because the players have been made ready through four Japanese coaches and the federation has provided everything what the players needed during the training," said Rubel, who is more known as a film hero Rubel Rana.
General secretary Moazzem Hossain Sentu believed they would be able to break the jinx after grabbing silver medals in three consecutive meets they had participated.
Japanese coach Masayoshi Kagawa said Iftekher Hossain Parvez and Jo U Pru have chances to win gold medal in individual men's and women's kata events respectively.
Afzal Hossain, Asadul Islam, Dipankar Roy, Azaharul Islam, Firoz Khan, Golam Mortaza, Golam Maula, Salim Mia, Abdur Rahman, Al Amin, Aminul Islam, Awlad Hossain, Azharul Islam, Firoz Sarkar, Imran Bhuiyan, Junaid Biswas, Kabirul Islam, Khalilur Rahman, Mahbubur Rahman, Masudul Karim, Mizanur Rahman, Shahidul Islam, Shahin Alam, Sajib Hossain, Tuhin Hossain, Obaydur Rahman, Foujia Huda Jui, Jasmine Akter, Khurshida Khatun, Israt Jahan, Nazmun Nahar Beauty, Nurjahan Mollick, Rowsanara, Sathi Parvin, Shamun Nahar Chumki, Shapla Khatun and Sumita Rani.
Shamim Osman, Sujan Islam, Mir Ibn Iftekhar Hossain Parvez, Syed Nuruzzaman Sinthia, Hasan Khan Sun, Hossain Khan Moon, Morium Khatun Bipasha, Jo U Pru, Munni Khanm, Husainu.