• Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:50 am

Sprinters struggle to cope with high altitude

  • Published at 01:45 pm December 5th, 2019
Bangladesh's Jahir Rayhan receives treatment at Blue Cross Hospital after falling ill in the South Asian Games Thursday

The national record-holder Jahir Rayhan along with Abu Taleb Thursday couldn’t take part in the final event after falling ill at the end of their respective heats

Bangladeshi athletes have been struggling to cope with the high altitude of Nepal in the ongoing 13th South Asian Games, and the challenge is most severe for the sprinters in the 400m events. 

The national record-holder Jahir Rayhan along with Abu Taleb Thursday couldn’t take part in the final event after falling ill at the end of their respective heats. 

Jahir, who finished second in the first heat with 48.20s timing, and Taleb, who was placed fourth in second heat with 50.20s, struggled to breath after the heats and despite running for medals in the final at the track of Dasharath Rangasal Stadium, the pair laid on the beds of Blue Cross Hospital with breathing masks.

The medical officer of emergency, Dr Pawan Rawal declared that the two didn’t have enough pulse rates to run for the final and that took place after an hour they had been taken to the hospital. 

"They have higher pulse rate (100+) than what it should be for an athlete (around 78+). It will increase more if they run again," said the doctor before releasing the patients after two hours.

Jahir was seen urging the athletic coach Abdullah Hel Kafi to get him back to the track.

Kafi, who was in very melancholy mood, said, "It's very unfortunate for us. They couldn’t even get the chance to show their competence in the final."

Jahir, who raced to the semi-final of the same event in the World U-18 Championship in Kenya in 2017, broke a 32-year-old record in the National Athletics Championship early this year with 46.86s timing. 

It was his debut appearance at the SAG.

Both Jahir and Taleb are scheduled to participate in the 4x400m relay Saturday. 

Bangladesh Athletics Federation general secretary Abdur Rakib Montu hoped to get them back in time of the next event.

Montu earlier admitted that it would have been better for the athletes if they had arrived in Kathmandu earlier than Sunday night, only 36 hours before the athletics events took place.

The other teams who are dominating the podiums arrived earlier.   

AK Sarkar, the deputy chef de mission and member secretary of Bangladesh Olympic Association's training committee, said, "It is becoming difficult for the athletes to adjust with the altitude of Nepal, which is 1400m above the sea level. We recommended all federations to send their athletes earlier but it is bit more expensive and the practice venues including Dasharath Stadium were not available."

The International Association of Athletics Federations acknowledges the effects of altitude on performance, especially for exclusive events like 400m sprints. 

Altitude acclimatization is needed to get used to the air but most of athletes at the SAG are not having enough time to adapt before their games.

Female sprinters Shabiya al Soha and Sumi Akter also got ill after the end of their heats in the 400m and 800m events respectively Thursday, but both recovered before the final with some primary medical treatment. 

None of the Bangladesh athletes however, managed to bag any medal out of six events yesterday after winning a silver and bronze in the first two days.

Many athletes in other sports as well, including volleyball, swimming, football and shooting, are reported to have struggled to adapt with the high altitude in the first few days.