A near miss for Mahfuza | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 06, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 06, 2010

11th South Asian Games 2010

A near miss for Mahfuza

India set the pool afire

(L) Sri Lankan Minekasashmini Natasha Karunarathe edges ahead of Bangladesh's Mahfuza Khatun during the women's 50m breaststroke event while (R) Indian Sandeep Sejwal exults after winning the men's 200m breaststroke in record time during the 11th South Asian Games swimming competition at the National Swimming Complex in Mirpur yesterday. Photos: STAR

India set the pool afire by winning four out of five gold medals decided on the opening day of the 11th South Asian Games swimming competition at the National Swimming Complex in Mirpur yesterday.
It was Sri Lanka's Minekasashmini Natasha Karunarathne, who denied the Indians of a sweeping success by winning the women's 50m breaststroke gold.
Hosts Bangladesh might not have achieved the highest honour, but their participants put up a valiant fight and claimed three silver and two bronze medals.
Among the local natants Mahfuza Khatun impressed everybody with a superb effort in the women's 50m breaststroke. And in an exciting duel with Karunarathne, Mahfuza fought neck and neck before falling inches short of the finish line.
Karunarathne finished with 35.15 seconds while Mahfuza, who won the bronze when the Games was last staged in Colombo in 2006, clocked 35:43 seconds.
After the near miss Mahfuza wished that she could have been a couple of inches taller.
"You know it was the height that ultimately made the difference," said Mahfuza's coach Park Taegun. It was an effort that no one had expected from the 22-year-old from Jessore as everybody pinned hopes on a more illustrious Dolly Akhter in this event. Dolly secured the bronze with a timing of 36.59sec.
"I am really happy with our performance in the pool on the opening day," said the South Korean coach.
In the men's 100m freestyle, Mahfizur Rahman became the first Bangladeshi to clinch a silver medal in this event. Indian Aaron Agnel D'Souza made a new Games record clocking 52:48sec -- the previous best was 52:71 -- to secure the gold in the event while Mahfizur followed him with 52:85sec, which was better than his national record of 54:22.
"I had the expectation of winning silver and I achieved it. I'm happy because we finally won something in this event for the first time," said Mahfizur, a BKSP student.
Sri Lankan Heshan Bandara Unamboowe bagged the bronze with a timing of 52:23sec.
Indian swimmer Sandeep Sejwal was outstanding in the men's 200m breaststroke, where he set a new Games record on way to winning the gold. Sandeep clocked 2:21:03sec to shatter the previous best of 2:21:12sec by a distance while Bangladeshi Kamal Hossain improved his national timing with 2:27:54sec to fulfil his expectation by winning the silver.
India also got the bronze as Anoop Augustine finished third with a timing of 2:29:99sec.
In the day's first event, the men's 200m individual medley, Rehan Jehangir Poncha won the gold for India clocking 2:12:65sec while Sri Lanka's Unamboowe bagged silver (2:13:68) and Bangladesh's Rubel Rana claimed the bronze with a timing of 2:19:03sec.
Another new Games record was set when Indian Shubha Chittaranjan won the gold in the women's 50m butterfly with a timing of 29:44sec -- the old record was 29:71sec -- while Sri Lankan Miniruwani Shahiprabha Samrakoon took the silver (32:12sec) and Kiran Khan won the bronze, ensuring the lone medal for Pakistan on the day.

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