The recently-constructed Rangasala in Pokhara yesterday became the scene of Bangladesh’s most successful day in the history of the South Asian Games, turning into a gold-mine for the country, who won seven gold medals yesterday -- the single-best haul for Bangladesh, beating the previous best of four golds on a single day from the 2010 edition held in Dhaka.
The successful day, which doubled Bangladesh’s gold tally to 14, took the country close to beating their Games record from the same edition nine years ago.
Bangladesh archery’s poster-boy Roman Sana and teenage archer Ety Khatun led the gold rush as the Red and Greens clinched all six team and mixed team gold medals at the archery ground adjacent to the Rangasala. Around the same time, just across the archery venue, the Bangladesh women’s cricket team won gold, beating Sri Lanka by two runs in a nail-biting finish.
Bangladesh are hoping to add all four remaining golds from archery’s individual events today as the nation is proving to be far ahead of other South Asian competitors in the absence of regional powerhouses India, who have been banned from international meets by the World Archery Federation.
Bangladesh archery team’s coach Martin Frederick was a delighted man after his disciples breezed through to all six team gold medals, beating Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, and he was of the opinion that Bangladesh would have done well even if India were present.
“Maybe it is easier [without India], but they also scored a very good result here. Look what Ruman scored in the qualification round, it’s 686 and India has a problem reaching that. The female archers also made a record in the qualification round,” the German coach, who was appointed by Bangladesh Archery Federation in February, 2018 with the aim of winning an Olympic medal, said.
It was just reward for the investment by the federation and sponsors and the hard work of the archers, who have helped raise the profile of this relatively new sport in the country.
Bangladesh had won only three silver and three bronze medals in the last edition of the Games in 2016, but since then, the archers, who get excellent support to groom their skills, are looking to make a clean sweep of gold medals in the discipline today.
Sana, who won two gold medals teaming up with Tamimul Islam and Hakim Ahmed in one and with Ety Khatun in another, was confident of securing a third gold medal today in the individual recurve event.
“I try to see all the opponents with the same respect. You don’t know what might happen on the day. But I’m confident if I can get my regular score, I can win the gold in individual too,” said Sana, who is the only athlete from Bangladesh so far to earn a quota place for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Sana, Ety and the likes helped Bangladesh to move to 14 gold medals while there were five silver medals on the day -- two in fencing and one each in swimming, shooting and weightlifting, taking the silver tally to 31. There were also 18 bronze medals for a total bronze count of 74 as Bangladesh moved to 119 medals in total in fifth position.