The Olympic Stadium was buzzing by the time the clock struck ten on Saturday morning, but out in the corner on the straight, the curtain-raising event of the day took place in relative obscurity.
The first men’s 100-metre preliminary rounds kicked-off proceedings yesterday but for the watching thousands, every name on the scoreboard of the Olympic Park was
unfamiliar. There was a scattering of competitors from all around the world, places as exotic as Laos and Bolivia and Sao Tome and Principe.
No wonder then that Bangladeshi sprinter Mohan Khan, who was also on the list, admitted before the race that most of the sprinters were from nations that he had never
even heard of.
For Mohan, whose Olympic preparations were patchy at best, after he was handed a wild-card quite late in the piece, it was an opportunity to show that the fastest man
in 160 million in Bangladesh was at least decent on the world stage.
The Bangladeshi certainly started well, his reaction times after the starting gun suggesting that he might be able to spring a surprise.
But running into a headwind of 0.9 m/s was never going to be easy for Mohan and he faded to finish on 11.25. It was still a personal best and from Mohan, asking
anything more would have been pushing it.
Running in lane six, the army sprinter finished fifth out of the seven competitors.
He was similarly pragmatic while summing up his achievement.
“Even Indians and Pakistanis train for over a year coming into the Olympics. I trained for one and a half months. Given that, posting my personal best, I can be
satisfied,” he said.
Mohan admitted that he was struggling with the conditions. The infamous blustery English weather has put paid to many a better competitor in the past, but the
Bangladeshis especially seem to have struggled.
Mohan’s statements mirrored those of Bangladeshi archer Emdadul Haque Milon and swimmer Mahfizur Rahman Shagor.
“There is a distinct lack of training,” he said. “If we could train properly and invest in the sport then maybe Bangladesh could achieve something on the world stage.”
For now though, there is no such sunshine forthcoming.
Mohan’s exit meant the end for Bangladesh’s participation in the Olympic Games. As the most populous nation without a medal in the Games, there have been numerous
whispers in the international media about Bangladesh.
Perhaps this will drive some positive change in numerous sports in Bangladesh where infrastructural investment and training can be relatively minimal but lead to
greater things for the country on an international stage.
-With The Daily Star input