Dwijendra Nath Das / Barpeta
A young boy from Gandharipara, a rural hamlet near North Athiabari in Barpeta district, has brought laurels for Assam. Mehdi Hassan, a talented athlete from this village, has been shining in the national sports arena.
CRPF personnel Abul Kalam Azad dreamed of making his son a national and international athlete despite being involved in important fields such as national service. Although his son initially showed talent as a promising football player, his father Abul Kalam Azad took him to Guwahati five years ago to live in a small rented house to develop him as a skilled athlete. He took his son to a coaching center in Sarusajai Sports Complex to learn the basics of dashing and running.
There, Mehdi Hassan learned the basics of athletics and got the opportunity to play for his home district at the Assam state level and then the state team. He played for the Barpeta district several times and showcased his talent. He later went to Calcutta and Bhopal for advanced coaching.
Mehdi Hassan in the field during a competition in Chennai
The youth from Athiyabari won the gold medal in the 1500m at the National Athletics Championship held at the Tiruthannamalai Sports Project in Tamil Nadu last year.
Mehdi Hassan won the gold medal clocking 3:49:73 minutes. With the gold medal, Mehdi Hassan qualified to represent the country at the Junior Asian Athletics Championships held at Yecheon in South Korea from June 4 to 7, 2023. He bagged a bronze in the men’s 1500m race with a time of 3:56.01 minutes.
In a telephone conversation with Awaz -the Voice, Mehdi Hassan said that his father was the driving force behind his success. Mehdi was encouraged by his father to be groomed as an athlete from childhood. Mehdi said he would never have been able to shine at the national level if his father had not helped him to become an athlete since childhood.
Hassan’s initial coach Navajit Malakar told Awaz – The Voice that patience and perseverance were the driving force behind the youngster. “I have been associated with him as a mentor over the past five years. He walked in as a trainee at the Sarusajai Sports Complex athletics academy. We trained him keeping in view his build and height hoping that he will shine someday. But, the COVID-19 pandemic descended in the midst, and like most of the athletes, Hassan’s training was also affected. However, he kept his cool and kept persevering.
“Then I took the initiative to arrange his advanced training in Kolkata by contacting some of my fellow coaches there. He continued to excel there to catch the attention of the national selectors and was picked for further advanced training in Bhopal. There he drew the attention of the national coaches who picked him up for the national level. I am happy that he has achieved a feat in the Fed Cup and the Asian Juniors. In fact, I was a little disappointed with him when he refused to participate in the Assam inter-district meet, but the national side call-up has come as a bonus. He was more than confident of a national feat at that time,” Malakar said.
The coach also appreciated the support from Hassan’s home. “His parents are very cooperative and encouraging. Despite the pandemic situation when most parents convinced their children to give up pursuing sports, his parents kept supporting him in pursuing his dream,” Malakar said.