• Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

SAG2019: Golden day for weightlifters, fencers

  • Published at 01:50 pm December 7th, 2019
Bangladesh weightlifters Jiarul Islam and Mabia Akter Shimanta (C) and fencer Fatema Mujib are all smiles after winning gold in their respective events in Nepal Saturday

A memorable day featured weightlifting’s record gold-haul in the region’s biggest sporting extravaganza, and the first international gold for the country in fencing, which has been included in the South Asian Games for the first time

After a drought of three days, Bangladesh returned to the top of the podium again, and that too thrice in a row, from weightlifters Mabia Akter Shimanta and Jiarul Islam in Pokhara and lastly, less familiarly, fencer Fatema Mujib in Kathmandu on the seventh day of the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal Saturday.

A memorable day featured weightlifting’s record gold-haul in the region’s biggest sporting extravaganza, and the first international gold for the country in fencing, which has been included in the SAG for the first time.

Mabia gave the first good news of the day. 

The expectation was there from the SAG2016 gold-medalist in the 76kg weight category, where the region’s weightlifting powerhouse India had no participants. 

The 20-year old weightlifter switched her event from 64kg to 76kg to avail the best opportunity.

“This time there was more tension because I was only a new face in 2016, and this time, the responsibility and expectation were more. Overall, it was very competitive because the Sri Lankan weightlifters are very good,” said Mabia after bagging gold.

Sri Lankan weightlifter BC Priyanthi posed a threat in the snatch where she lifted 83kg against Mabia’s 80. 

Mabia clinched victory in the clean and jerk by lifting 105kg (totaling 185kg) in her first attempt where Priyanthi lifted 101kg in three attempts. 

Nepal’s Tara Devi lifted 172kg to win bronze.

“She (Priyanthi) was ahead of me in the snatch, but I caught her in the clean and jerk. I was confident because I’m better at clean and jerk than snatch. We really needed this gold because the players and the coaches worked hard,” said the Bangladesh Ansar weightlifter.

Hours after Mabia’s triumph, Jiarul clinched gold in the men’s 96kg weight category. 

Bangladesh never won two golds in a single SAG edition before.

Mohammad Hamidul Islam won the first gold in the 77kg weight category in 2010 in Dhaka after Mabia bagged the second gold in the 64kg category in the 2016 Games in Guwahati, India.

Jiarul lifted 120kg in snatch and 142kg in clean and jerk, totaling 262 kg, 15kg more than bronze-medalist Vishal Singh of Nepal. 

India also didn’t take part in this event where Ajay Singh lifted 305kg to win gold in 2016. 

Bangladesh weightlifters however, don’t even have a gymnasium of their own.  

“I worked really hard for the Games but I never thought of winning it. This is also the first time I’m playing outside the country. It’s a great matter for me to win my first gold in such a big stage,” said Jiarul, who has been working for Bangladesh Army since 2013, three years after starting weightlifting.

The gold-hauling day concluded with Fatema grabbing Bangladesh's seventh gold in the Games, and also the first gold in fencing, in Naya Bazar, Kiritipur, a hilly area of Kathmandu valley.

Fatema’s gold came in the women’s sabre individual event where she defeated Thapa Pabina of Nepal by 15-11 points in the final. 

Sri Lankan opponent in the group round and Indian fencer in the knockout stage couldn’t stop Fatema from bagging her first international gold in the debut participation abroad.

It was also the best achievement for Bangladesh Fencing Association that started its journey in 2007. 

All the fencers were seen celebrating the gold with Fatema in the middle. 

The 20-year-old new fencer star said, “I'm really proud to win Bangladesh's first gold in fencing in my debut participation in any competition abroad.”

With three golds Saturday, Bangladesh also crossed last edition’s total gold tally (four) by winning seven golds already after three from karate and one from taekwondo. 

Realistic expectations are there to bag more from archery with six gold-medal deciding matches scheduled to be held in Pokhara Sunday.

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