Hosts Bangladesh may not have grabbed any medals in the just-concluded Asian Archery Championships but they showed signs of a bright future with surprise quarterfinal berths in five out of 10 events against some of the countries that dominate the world championships and Olympic Games.
A young Bangladesh Archery Federation (BAF) has already tied itself with corporate conglomerate City Group with a package aimed at enhancing performances of recurve archers and an ultimate target of winning at least one medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, new hopes lie elsewhere, in non-Olympic compound events, where the local archers made it to the last-eight in four events -- men's individual compound, men's team compound, mixed team compound and women's team compound. The Bangladesh team in women's compound surprisingly played in the bronze-medal deciding match where they were beaten by Asian powerhouse Iran.
Recurve archer Roman Sana was the centre of attention for hosts, but the lad from Khulna failed to shine in elimination round despite finishing among top 11 archers in the ranking round. However, Sana's failure was compensated by his teammates, especially in the compound events. But their failure to reach the semifinals was down to lack of international experience, according to Bangladesh Archery Federation's (BAF) general secretary Kazi Razib Uddin Ahmed Chapal.
“We never dreamt of reaching the semifinals [in compound women's team] even though we had said we wanted to qualify for the quarterfinals. We were beaten due to our inexperience,” he said.
The game's local governing body is now planning on giving attention to compound events, where there is no foreign coach and the archers have been training under former national archer Ziaur Rahman.
Secretary general of World Archery Association Tom Dielen has promised to assist Bangladesh by providing a high-class coach in recurve and compound during his short visit to Bangladesh during the championships.
“He promised me to find a high-class recurve coach from Germany,” Chapal said. “And we will rope in a compound coach either from India or Iran to hone the skills of compound archers.”
The BAF has also decided to host the ISSF Islamic Solidarity Archery Championships every year over the next five years to give international exposure to archers while they will also host the Asia Cup next year and would bid for the 2021 Youth World Archery Championships.
While the organisers have earned a lot of praise from the participating nations for successfully hosting such a mega event, they have definitely failed to create enough enthusiasm among the aspiring archers by restricting spectators from the venue on 'security grounds.'
“I must admit that it was our failure but in a sense we did not fail because I received a lot of congratulatory phone calls from organisers at both national and district level. We could have brought a vibe among the newcomers had we grabbed a medal,” Chapal said, adding that they would definitely keep attention on the grassroots to make archery popular.
Champions South Korea team's coach Kim Seonghoon also suggested focusing on grassroots with long-term plan to take Bangladesh archery forward.