This article was published in the September issue of the Sports Tribune Magazine
Mabia Aktar Shimanta earned Bangladesh gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games in the weightlifting discipline and was the flag-bearer of her country at the Asian Games 2018 in Indonesia. She gave an exclusive interview to Dhaka Tribune after finishing last in her 63kg event at the Asiad in Jakarta last month. Mabia lifted a total of 178kg, including 77kg in snatch and 101kg in clean and jerk, to be ranked sixth out of as many participants as North Korean weightlifter Kim Hyo Sim won gold with 250kg. Here are the excerpts:
What are your realistic expectations in the 2019 SA Games, scheduled to be held in Nepal in March?
It will be a dream to expect retaining gold medal in weightlifting in the next SA Games because our standard now has decreased to below-par. I won medal in 2016 but since then there were no training camps. If we were nurtured properly, our performance would have been much better at the Asiad.
What was your preparation like for the Asiad?
I have had my preparation with my own efforts; I get no support from the federation, BOA (Bangladesh Olympic Association) or any official. There is a huge difference between taking preparation on your own and taking preparation through the training camp. Camp routine and camp plan are different and more effective.
We had only one and a half month camp before the Asiad whereas an athlete, especially an weightlifter, requires at least two months to get his or her fitness back before participating at such big events, let alone other practice sessions.
What will you take forward from the 2018 Asiad?
I can’t take any positives from the Asiad. I came here after exceeding the qualification round but I fear in the next four years we will be eliminated from the heats of the qualification if we continue neglecting the athletes.
I’m personally trying my best to retain the gold in SA Games. But it will be tougher if you look at the other participants. The other athletes will continue their camp till Tokyo Olympics 2020 and participate in different competitions all the year around. Whereas we have no plan, no camp.
The Indonesian weightlifters were involved in specialised camp in the last two and a half years, they have no vacation. The Indian weightlifter who competed with me at Asiad has not visited his family in the last two years. Many of them are even married and have children. So despite being unmarried, why we have to stay with our family?
The government and the respective sports associations should take such initiatives and may be then after a decade or so, Bangladesh can reach their standard.