The golden girls

Weightlifter Mabia Akter Simanta and swimmer Mahfuza Khatun Shila yesterday bagged the first two gold medals for Bangladesh in the 12th South Asian Games, being co-hosted by the north-eastern Indian cities of Guwahati and Shillong.

Mabia, participating with a right-elbow injury, won the first gold in the morning lifting a total of 149kgs — 67kg in snatch and 82kg in clean and jerk — in the 63kg category at the Bhogeswari Indoor Stadium in Guwahati. In doing so, she became the first female weightlifter from Bangladesh to win an SA Games gold medal.

With the national flag of Bangladesh hoisted and the national anthem playing in the background, Mabia burst into tears saluting the red and green flag.

“I was not expecting to win gold with my elbow injury and I competed only for silver, but I bagged the gold medal. I still can’t believe it,” Mabia said in her instant reaction, adding that she was still feeling pain in her hand.

However, it was an unexpected gold for Mabia as Indian gold-medal hopeful Reena, who lifted 22 kilos more than Mabia in snatch, failed in her last three attempts in clean and jerk to pave the way to gold for the young Bangladeshi weightlifter.

Later in the afternoon, Mahfuza made it a double delight for Bangladesh by winning gold in the 100m breaststroke at the Dr Zakir Hussain Aquatic Complex in the same city.

Unlike Mabia, Mahfuza dominated her event from the start and finished her swim in 1min 17:86sec to win the title, which she had lost to Sri Lanka’s MSN Karunarathe by 17 microseconds in the 2010 SA Games in Bangladesh.

“Last time I was defeated by a few microseconds and this time my target was to win gold in this event. I believed that I would win gold if I could take the lead from the beginning,” said Mahfuza, who is the first female swimmer from Bangladesh to win a gold medal from the pool since the introduction of the games in 1984.

Earlier in the day, female weightlifter Fullapati Chakma won a silver medal in the 58kg category by lifting a total of 144kg — 63kg in snatch and 81kg in clean and jerk. The 21-year-old weightlifter from Rangamati, who was not in the limelight ahead of the games, hogged attention before Simanta’s feat in afternoon.

However, last edition’s gold medallist Hamidul Islam failed to win any medal in 77kg category after finishing fourth with a total lift of 262kg, 19 kilos less than bronze-medal winner Umair Rasol of Pakistan.

In men’s swimming, Mahfizur Rahman Sagar won two bronze medals — first in 50m freestyle and later in 1500m freestyle.

Elsewhere, Bangladesh women’s football team posted a 2-1 win over Sri Lanka after suffering a 0-3 defeat to Nepal in their opener in Shillong. Krishna Rani struck both goals for Bangladesh.

Bangladesh earned two gold medals, as many silver medals and five bronze medals yesterday, after having bagged one silver medal and eight bronze medals on the first day of the competition. The feats mean Bangladesh are in fourth position on the medal’s tally.