A 21-member Bangladesh swimming team including eight female swimmers accompanied by new Japanese coach Yorikazu Tamayama left here Sunday evening with an aim to adopt with the high altitude of Kathmandu
Swimmers will be the first among the 25 disciplines to arrive in Nepal ahead of the 13th South Asian Games scheduled to be held in Kathmandu and Pokhara on December 1-10.
A 21-member Bangladesh swimming team including eight female swimmers accompanied by new Japanese coach Yorikazu Tamayama left here Sunday evening with an aim to adopt with the high altitude of Kathmandu.
“We have two challenges, first, the venue is 1400-metre above sea level, and, second, the game will be played in 25-metre pool whereas we used to practice in 50-metre pool at home. That is why we send our swimmers too early to adjust with the weather and condition.” said BSF general secretary MB Saif yesterday.
Lt Commander Mahadi-Ul Hasan, the camp commander of national training camp as well as the talent hunt programme, informed that 12 swimmers do not have the SA Games experience while six were picked up from talent hunt camp.
Swimming’s two gold medals in 2016 SA Games were won by Mahfuza Khatun Shila who is not taking part in the upcoming games. Bangladesh’s realistic chance of winning gold in the discipline will be very thin. Both Saif and Mahadi placed their hopes on the young swimmers, especially – Ariful Islam, Junayna Ahmed and Romana Akter.
Ariful and Romana hailed from Kishoreganj’s Nikli, which is considered the hub of budding swimmers, while Junayna is British-bron expatriate swimmers who will join the rest in Nepal later this month.
The 21-year-old Ariful is in the middle of his two-year scholarship programme in France ahead of the Tokyo Olympic. He informed how he improved his timing from 1.7m to 1.3m in only one year and two months.
“My best chance will be in 50m and 100m breaststroke events. It is possible to win gold or silver in these two events. There could be medals in the 200m breaststroke and relay events. I’ll give my best to fulfill federation’s expectations.” said Arif.
While this will be the first time for Ariful and Junayna, it will be the second time for Romana, who won bronze in 200m breaststroke in Guwahati, India in 2016. Romana said, “I couldn’t win the gold for a second last time. Now I’m more experienced and the expectation is also more. I’ll try to break my personal best.”
One of the most experienced members in the contingent, Mahfizur Rahman Sagor, who won seven bronze medals in the last SA Games, said, “I’m working hard to convert those bronzes to gold or silver. It could be in 100m or 200m freestyle because the difference with top swimmers is lesser in these two events.”
Tamayama, who joined as national team head coach in less than a month after former Japanese coach Takeo Inoki resigned from the post protesting against the punishment of a juvenile swimmer, sees the altitude of Nepal as his first challenge.
“We have to adopt with high altitude first. I have experience training at high altitude which I can use to help the swimmers adjust fast. Our swimmers have great potential but other countries like India (also Sri Lanka) are very strong. Everyone including me has to make efforts. They should never give up and fight for the medal.”
The four-day swimming events will be held on December 5-9. Meanwhile, volleyball team will be the second to leave here for SA Games on November 25 as their fixtures will start four days before the inaugural ceremony.