Bronze stacks up amid silver lining | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 07, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:14 AM, December 07, 2019

Bronze stacks up amid silver lining

The front pages of most of the national newspapers in Nepal on Friday were flush with blown-up pictures of Gaurika Singh, the Nepalese swimmer who just won her country its first-ever swimming individual gold in the history of the South Asian Games.

The Games’ official newsletter printed a full-page picture of her holding the 200m freestyle gold medal, with the headline reading ‘Fairylike Historic Gold’ in Nepalese. 

The 16-year-old, who lives in England, later went on to win the 200m backstroke gold, making her the talk of Kathmandu as Nepal set a new medal record for the country, beating their previous best from 1999 when the Games were in Kathmandu for the second time.  

While Gauri and all of Nepal were cheering, there was not much to cheer for in the Bangladesh camp, who scraped two bronze medals from the pool on the second day of swimming. 

Gauri’s feat brought to mind that of Mahfuza Khatun Shila, who had salvaged a disappointing campaign for Bangladesh with two individual gold medals in the 2016 SA Games in India. Shila too had won the first individual gold medal in swimming for Bangladesh three years ago. 

Shila is in Kathmandu too, but only as a guest of the contingent, leading the team in the opening ceremony and encouraging the current swimmers. Her cheers from the side of the pool must have been falling on deaf ears as the swimmers failed to lift themselves to the required heights in Kathmandu. 

Romana Akter, who was competing in the 100m breaststroke event -- one of two events in which Shila had won gold -- finished a disappointing fifth with a timing of 1min 18.87sec. 

Bangladesh’s two bronze medals in swimming came courtesy of Junayna Ahmed and Faisal Ahmed while there were three bronze medals in fencing alongside one bronze each in kabaddi and shooting, swelling the bronze tally to 51. 

The overall tally for Bangladesh rose, too, to 75 -- equalling the haul from the previous edition -- thanks to four silver medals in golf, two in weightlifting and one in shooting yesterday. However, gold has dried up for the country after four came on the first two medal-deciding days.  

And that is where Bangladesh is lagging far behind the four higher-placed nations, namely India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. 

In fact, Bangladesh are currently second in the bronze-medal count, but a distant fifth in both silver and bronze counts. 

That is the worry is for the Bangladesh sports officials, who had hoped to not only increase the number of medals but also the variety in colour of those. So far, the numbers are rising fast but the change in colour is struggling to keep pace. 

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