got a taste of the world of table tennis at an early age
of eight. She is Zobera Rahman Linu -- the only female sports
personality in Bangladesh to have her name listed in the
Guiness Book of World Records.
was born in Kaptai on June 9. Her home district is in Khulna
but she grew up in Sylhet at Shahzibazar. She passed SSC
from Rosulpur school of Narsingdi. From Lalmatia Girls College,
Dhaka, she completed her HSC as well as BA and she got her
Master's degree in psychology from Jagannath University
describes how she got her introduction to table tennis.
"When we were in Shahzibazar my father Sheikh Abdur
Rahman used to go to Shahzibazar Officers Club everyday
along with my older sister. They would play table tennis
there. In 1973, at age eight, I went to that club for the
first time and got introduced to the game. At the end of
1973 I began to practice table tennis on a regular basis
and in 1974 my hobby turned into a full-fledged ambition."
1974, Dhaka Press Club organised a Table Tennis Championship.
Linu's father encouraged both her and her older sister to
participate there. In this championship, Linu stood runner
up and her sister became the champion. Though she was always
in touch with other games like gollachute, dariabanda,
badminton and handball for a particular time, her priority
was table tennis.
proved to be the most successful year for Linu as she stood
champion in three categories -- single, doubles and mixed
doubles. From 1979 to 2001, 24 years in a row excluding
'81, '98 and '99, she won 16 national championships -- which
is the best ever in any country of the world. In 1981 she
did not participate. In 1998 and '99 there was no national
championship. Meanwhile, in 1996 she decided to retire from
table tennis as she was suffering from back pain. But she
still had to play maintaining a deadline of 2002. Because
she was informed by former table tennis player Helaluddin
that she had a chance of creating a world record if she
played a few more years. "I did not really think too
much on breaking a world record," says Linu. "
I was just playing. I am very thankful to Mr. Helal who
helped me send all my documents and data to the authority
of the Guinness Book of World Records. I was the only table
tennis player in the world to win 16 consecutive national
championships. That helped me to create history. They declared
my name in 2002." Linu stood 5th in 1980's Asian Table
Tennis Championship which took place in Japan.
1982 Pentagula championship she stood runner up in the mixed
doubles. In the 1997 Independent Cup she stood champion
in three categories. She gives maximum credit to her family
members who were key figures behind her success. She is
grateful to Helaluddin as well.
Linu is quite happy that she has made her country proud
she is still a little disgruntled by the way she has been
treated by Bangladesh Biman, her official sponsor, for which
she played 18 years, winning 14 championships. "Biman
has given me nothing. No job, no salary, only pocket money.
The government did the same. Today cricket is getting maximum
priority. They are getting big sponsors, jobs, all kinds
of opportunities. If one- third of this money and opportunities
are given for table tennis, players will be able to give
their best. The government should back them up providing
sufficient opportunity like proper physical training, good
food, money, jobs, etc." She added, "I know of
such table tennis players who have Masters degrees but no
job. If the government gives them financial assurance they
will be able to push themselves professionally."
our time the playing environment was very good. There was
a feeling of comraderie among the boys and girls. We had
both opportunities and the interest to practice and we were
very helpful towards each other." She added further,
"If a girl practices with a boy then she can do better
and her performance gets more polished. Boys of my time
were very helpful. Nowadays, this environment has changed.
Today's players wear modern dresses but do not have a modern
mentality. Today a male player does not want to practice
with a female player."
believes that if Biman and Ansar sponsor table tennis players,
they will do better. Once again the government has to help
train the players. Linu says, "Five minutes of warm
up is not enough. One must have proper physical fitness.
Because only a physically fit player can be a good player.
Players must be serious, sincere and dedicated to their
profession. To some extent players themselves are responsible
for their failure."
the registration of her name in the Guinness Book, Linu
has been awarded a gold medal by Sheikh Russel Krirachakra
and Mariners Club has given her lifetime membership. Writer
of four books including Amar Bashanta Deen, Linu
is now writing her autobiography and working as the General
Secretary of Abahani. Table tennis has not given her money
but a lot of prestige and honour -- with which she is happy.
a bit of a tomboy, Linu has devoted herself to sports and
still has not found Mr. Right. But then Linu's first love
has always been undeniably table tennis.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004