Bangladesh have already matched their gold tally from the SA Games 2016
Bangladeshi karatekas Al Amin Islam, Marzan Akter Priya and Humaira Akhter Antara each bagged a gold medal for their country on the third day of the 13th South Asian Games in Kathmandu, Nepal on Tuesday.
Having now secured four golds in the first two days of the event proper, Bangladesh have already matched their gold tally from the 12th SA Games in 2016 with one week still to go.
Dipu Chakma secured Bangladesh’s first gold of this year’s Games in the taekwondo 29+ age category poomsae event Monday.
At International Sports Complex of Satdobato, the Bangladeshi karatekas were booming with confidence from the very first event yesterday, spurred on by two silvers and seven bronzes in a total of nine karate events the previous day.
Al Amin secured the first gold of the day for Bangladesh in the men’s -60kg kumite event, beating Pakistani karateka Zafar 7-3 in the final.
Nepal, who had bagged seven golds on the previous day, won bronze in the same event.
“I had belief in myself and thought I could do something for the country. I feel proud for bringing home a gold and representing the red and green flag abroad. I won gold at the South Asian Karate Championship [last month], which inspired me a lot. I followed the practice strategies of foreign players closely. The coaches also trained us a lot,” Al Amin said.
“I left Bangladesh with a bundle of hopes. I trained at night. The coach alerted me about some of the movement of the Pakistani practitioner before entering the final stage. He also gave me some strategies which I followed during the final and I did it,” he added, mentioning that he got his first karate lesson from his uncle and karate coach Shariful Islam.
Other Bangladeshi gold medalists Priya and Antara admitted that Al Amin’s victory in the final had boosted their confidence.
Priya bagged the country’s second gold medal of the day in the women's -55kg kumite event, beating Pakistani karateka Kouser Sana 4-3 in the final.
“Al Amin’s gold inspired me a lot because it was Bangladesh’s first gold in the first event of the day. I was warming up as my event was next and nothing was more pleasing to hear than that good news at the time,” Priya said.
Antara, who earlier opened Bangladesh’s medal tally with a bronze Monday, bagged the country’s fourth gold in total, and third in karate, after beating Nepal's Anu Gurung 5-2 in the final of the women's -61kg kumite event.
Antara’s wins, including one against Pakistan in the semi-finals, were more dominant than that of her two compatriots.
“I was very motivated after seeing Al Amin and Priya win gold,” she said.
One of the masterminds behind the brilliant performance of the Bangladeshi karatekas is national team chief adviser and head coach Tetsuro Kitamura.
The Japanese national first came to Bangladesh in 1985 and coached for two years.
The former Cambodia coach returned and has being guiding the Bangladesh team since the start of their SA Games 2019 preparations in July.
“This is my best day of my life after seeing them win three golds in a day,” said the 58-year old, who can speak fluent Bangla.
“The Bangladeshi karatekas have a lot of potential, but there is no long term plan. I set a target of four golds from them in SAG. I hope to win at least one [today].”
If Bangladesh wins one more gold in the four remaining karate events, it will match the total number of golds the country has won in the martial art since it was included in the SAG in 1999.
The four karate golds Bangladesh had won in previous SAG all came in Dhaka in 2010.