A sprint cut short
In his prime, he was the man who could run faster than anyone in the country. Off the track, Mahbub Alam remained humble despite all his achievements and was equally loved by his fellow athletes and coaches. The country lost this glorious man in a road accident yesterday.
A gold medalist sprinter in the South Asian Games and two-time national champion, Mahbub met his tragic demise at the age of 35 when a microbus carrying him and a friend crushed onto a stationary truck on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway near Kanchpur.
He died on the spot while the driver, who lost control of the microbus, injured himself early yesterday morning on the highway.
This accident, as tragic as it can be, is sadly not the first time a sportsman has died on the road. Twice fastest man of South Asia Shah Alam lost his life in a motorbike accident on the Kushtia highway in 1989 while national cricketer Manjarul Islam Rana was killed in a motorbike accident on the Jessore highway in 2007.
The late Mahbub, a member of the executive committee of Bangladesh Athletics Federation (BAF), had accompanied his former coach and long-time friend Mohammad Yahya to the latter's Comilla residence on the previous night.
The accident took place as they were returning to Dhaka in the wee hours. Mahbub's left arm was thrashed and part of his rib was damaged, succumbing to severe injuries. Yahya and the driver both received minor injuries and were treated at the hospital.
The late athlete's namaz-e-janaza was held at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in the evening where his family members, colleagues, coaches, journalists and well-wishers paid their last respect. His body was then taken to his native Batrish Harua neighbourhood in Kishoreganj where he was buried.
He left behind his mother, sisters, wife and a seven-year old daughter to mourn his sad and untimely departure.
Mahbub shot to fame when he won the 200m sprint gold in the 1995 SA Games in Chennai. He returned and became the fastest man of the country setting a record of 10.56 seconds in the 1996 national athletics, which remains unbroken till date. He also won the 200m sprint in that meet and repeated the feat two years later. In the 1999 Kathmandu SA Games, Mahbub added a silver in his favourite 200m sprint while also bagging a bronze in the 100m sprint.
A heart-rendering atmosphere ensued as the dead body was brought to the BNS for the namaz-e-janaza. Family members were inconsolable, while his former coaches managed, through tears, to reminisce memories of late Mahbub.
Mahbub's coach and current general secretary of BAF Shah Alam believed Mahbub is the best athlete Bangladesh has ever produced. He excelled in both 100m and 200m due to his lean yet sturdy physique, according to Alam.
Coach Nazrul Islam Rumi remembered his long-time protege: "It is very unfortunate for Mahbub to go like this. He was the best athlete of the country. He could have competed at the Asian level had he received proper training."
"He (Mahbub) was committed to performance. The sad thing is that he got recognition from the government but not from where he deserved most," reflected a sombre Rumi.
Those who knew Mahbub from close felt that the former national champion was frustrated for not getting proper recognition and reward from his close ones, the athletics federation.
The 2003 national sports award-winning athlete was promised of Tk one lac soon after his gold winning feat in 1995, but it was never given.