In a bid to coping with high altitude and getting used to 25-metre pool in host country, national swimmers left for Nepal yesterday for final preparation for the upcoming South Asian (SA) Games, some 16 days before the start of swimming events of the 13th regional multi-sports extravaganza.
In the last edition of the games in 2016, Bangladesh bagged a total of four gold medals, and two of those came from swimming. Both were won by Mahfuza Khatun Shila, but she has not been included in the Bangladesh contingent. However, the Bangladesh Swimming Federation (BSF) is dreaming big of beating the last edition’s medals tally -- 17 medals (two gold and 15 bronze) this time around.
“Though we had initial plan of sending the squad to China for training, we later decided to send the swimmers to Nepal in a bid to acclimatising with high altitude and getting used to with the 25-metre pool as our swimmers are used to swimming in 50-metres pool,” BSF general secretary BM Saif said on the eve of the departure of the team, which comprises 13 male and eight female swimmers.
British-born-Bangladeshi female swimmer Junayna Ahmed is supposed to join the squad on November 29 in Kathmandu straight from England.
Japanese coach Yorikazu Tamayama is accompanying the swimmers.
“We are hoping to produce better results compared to the previous edition as the swimmers have been training for the last ninth months. We can’t assure gold medals but there is good possibility of winning gold in male breaststroke event,” Saif said, adding that Ariful Islam, who underwent a 13-month training in Spain under Olympic Games scholarship, will compete in that event.
Saif is also pinning hopes on Junayna, who will compete in nine events while Bangladesh will take part in over 30 events of the discipline.
BSF, in association with Bangladesh Olympic Association, arranged training for the swimmers in Nepal by renting a private 25-metre pool along with gym and steam bath facilities.
“The federation is banking on me because I was in Spain for more than one year under an Olympic scholarship and I will try to repay the faith of the federation,” Ariful said before the team’s departure.
“I think I have good chance in 50m and 100m breaststroke events. If winning gold is not possible, I can bag silver medals but I will certainly win at least a medal,” Ariful said, adding that he has bettered his timing from 1.70 minutes to 1.30 minutes in 100m breaststroke event after training in Spain.
Romana Akter said, “I bagged a bronze medal in 100m breaststroke in the last edition of SA Games, but this time I have gained much experience and I hope to produce better result than the last time.”