Bangladesh Navy swimmers Mahfizur Rahman Sagar and Najma Khatun won the 50 metre freestyle swimming events for men and women respectively, at the Syed Nazrul Islam National Swimming Complex yesterday.
Sagar, widely regarded the country’s premier swimmer, lived up to his by beating his own national record. Sagar clocked 24.41 seconds, 0.03 seconds better than the previous record. The muscular swimmer was hardly challenged as he made a perfect start, timed his acceleration well and staged a superb finishing.
The man who clocked 24.06 in London Olympics was a happy man to set the new national record. “I was confident that I would win, but was not expecting a new national mark. Maybe my experience led me to the success, I am short of practice and there is a lack of motivation also, we are not getting enough international exposure in the recent times. If we did, we would have improved more,” Sagar said.
Najma improved on her personal best to take the women’s event at a time of 30.08 seconds.
The winner fought hard in the last 25 metres, and her superb finish saw her finish just one split second ahead of the old queen, Dolly Akter,“I am happy that I retained the title and beat Dolly Apa, it was my personal motivation to beat her and I have also improved my personal timing, I was always confident and determined to do my best and the challenge brought the best out of me,” said Najma who also won the national swimming title last year.
Meanwhile another swimming superstar Rubel Rana stormed to victory in the 50 metre backstroke with a time of 29.14 seconds. Jewel Ahmed, the rising star of Bangladesh Army, challenged him but had to be content with second place at 29.23 seconds.
“I won nine gold medals as fresh blood back in 2002 and since then I have never lost in the 50 metre backstroke. I am happy to continue the trend,” Rubel declared after his win.
Rubel went on to bemoan the lack of progress in the country’s swimming. “We lack proper training facilities, the diet level is low and we also lack international exposure, I am sorry to say that nothing has improved over the years,” he bemoaned.