Maldives’ Saaid Hassan unseated Sri Lanka’s Himasha Eashan to become the fastest man of South Asia while India’s Archana Suseent became the fastest woman, winning their respective 100m sprint events at the Dasarath Rangasala in Kathmandu yesterday morning.
It was sweet revenge for Maldives’ celebrity sprinter Saaid, who was beaten to the gold by Eashan in the last edition of the regional Games three years ago.
Saaid finished his 100m dash in 10.49 seconds, beating Eashan by 0.01 seconds. However, Saaid’s effort was 0.21 seconds slower than the Games record, which was set by Eashan in 2016. Sami Ullah of Pakistan bagged the bronze, clocking 10.66 seconds.
Bangladesh’s Ismail Hossain finished fifth, clocking 10.75 seconds while the country’s fastest man, Hassan Mia, finished eighth among eight finalists with a timing of 10.92 seconds.
In the women’s 100m sprint, India’s Archana Suseendran took the gold at 11.80 seconds, beating Sri Lanka’s Thanuzi Amasha (11.82s) and Lakshika Sugand (11.84s), who took silver and bronze respectively.
Bangladesh’s participants were poor in this event too as national champion Shirin Akter finished sixth while Sharifa Khatun finished seventh, both much slower than their personal bests.
While failure in sprint was quite expected as Bangladesh, once a breeding ground of the region’s fastest sprinters, have been falling behind their South Asian counterparts in the past decade, there was a really good performance from high-jumper Mahfuzur Rahman who lived up to expectations with a silver medal in men’s high-jump.
The man from Bangladesh Navy cleared 2.16 metres, eclipsing the national record set by himself earlier this year by 0.1 metres. Mahfuz won the silver jointly with India’s Chethan Balasub while India’s Anil Sarvesh won the gold by clearing 2.21 metres.
“I had the confidence of doing well. I’m very happy to have won the silver with a national record. I had an idea about the Indian jumpers. So, I knew if I could perform my best, I could win a medal,” the 19-year-old said after his effort.
It was Bangladesh’s first ever medal in the high-jump event in the history of the Games. Mahfuzur’s feat has already bettered Bangladesh’s efforts in athletics from the 2016 edition where the country had won only two bronze medals, both in the team 4x100m relay.