Bhubaneswar, Jan 14: At the Reliance Foundation Odisha Athletics High-Performance Centre (HPC) in Bhubaneswar, Mohammed Alamgir Hossain has been identified as an athlete of immense promise.
MD, as he is fondly called by fellow athletes and the coaching staff, was awarded the Best male performance of the competition at the Sprint and Middle Distance Fest at the HPC in October-November last year, underlining his potential. While he recorded Personal Best (PB) timings in both the 100 & 200m at the competition, it is in his preferred 400m sprint that Alamgir is carving a niche for himself. Head Coach James Hillier, who offered him a spot after an intense month long trial, was immediately impressed with Alamgir’s “ferocious appetite” to race and compete.
“My initial impressions were that he was physically very raw, but had good natural ability,” says Hillier. “He clearly had something that was worth investing in and working to develop. What I really liked about him was how naturally competitive he was. What he lacked in technical finesse he made up for in abundance with a ferocious appetite to be competitive – something that all top athletes must have.”
Born in 1999 in the North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal, Alamgir was initially drawn to football and played for his school team. An observant Physical Education teacher in his high school in Kolkata noticed his remarkable natural speed and sent young Alamgir to a local athletics coach, who was once a national level sprinter. The first few months were a struggle, and Alamgir recalls training on a grass track of 230m, completely unsuited for the demands of 400m sprinting. He would get injured often but soldiered on, and in 2017, at the age of 18 tasted success on the track for the first time when he won silver medals in both the 200m and 400m at the district level athletics meet. Alamgir was pleased with that outcome, but his parents weren’t happy that he had finished second.
“My parents told me to stop football training and concentrate on running,” he remembers. “Since then I started training five days a week after taking special permission from my football academy. I also attribute the credit of my initial success to my first coach Mr. Rahul Kumar, who took the right decisions for me and also helped me financially to get quality competition and training kit. He also took care of all my expenses during competition travel.”
Having tasted success at the district and then state level, Alamgir was ready to take the next step in his journey. In 2018, he won the bronze medal in the 400m at the Junior National championships in Ranchi in the U-20 category.
At the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS) national finals in Mumbai in 2019, representing Latbagan High school from Barrackpore, he claimed silver in the 200m. In fact, Alamgir had impressed observers enough at the RFYS championships a year earlier to earn a call-up to the elite camp, meant for the most eye catching talent on show at the championships. The experience was an eye opener, with Alamgir experiencing for the first time how professional athletics is conducted. Not long after, he had a permanent spot at the Reliance Foundation Odisha Athletics HPC, where world class facilities, infrastructure and coaching expertise were at his disposal.