Can Bangladesh athletics spring back to life?
For too long the country's athletics had failed to live up to its celebrated past at the international stage. While the Bangladeshi sprinters -- the likes of Shah Alam, Bimal Chandra Tarafder, MahbubAlam -- contributed to five golds out of the overall eight medals in athletics from 1984 to 2019 at the regional multi-sports extravaganza in the form of South Asian Games, it has been 17 frustrating years since Mahfizur Rahman Mithu won a gold medal in 110m hurdles in the 2006 Colombo edition.
However, when all hope seemed to have faded, England-based sprinter Imranur Rahman struck the jackpot by becoming the first Bangladeshi to win a gold medal in the 60m event of the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships in Kazakhstan on February 11. Thus, quite naturally, the Bangladesh Athletics Federation (BAF) has pinned hopes on Imranur, who previously had hit the headlines with a national record in 100m sprint, and are looking to provide the 29-year-old with what it takes to transform into a full-time sprinter from a part-time one and bring further laurels for the country.
"He (Imranur) needs high-performance training but we don't have any coaches in Bangladesh to train him; even there is no equipment or facility in Bangladesh. That's why we are thinking of providing him a financial assistance, so that he can train under a high-profile coach while staying with his family members in England,"
"He (Imranur) needs high-performance training but we don't have any coaches in Bangladesh to train him; even there is no equipment or facility in Bangladesh. That's why we are thinking of providing him a financial assistance, so that he can train under a high-profile coach while staying with his family members in England," said BAF general secretary AbdurRokibMontu, adding that the necessary financial support – amounting to Tk 5 lakh per month -- is far from unmanageable and that the federation intends to approach the government, sponsors, and the Bangladesh Olympic Association to meet Imranur's requirements.
He believes Imranur has the potential to equally shine in the outdoor events despite the big difference between indoor and outdoor athletics. Asked how it is wise to concentrate on only one sprinter to revive the country's athletics, the BAF general secretary -- who has demanded eight athletic tracks in eight divisional headquarters -- informed that the federation 'has devised plans to revive the country's athletics' with the talent pool at their disposal.
"I think the state must come forward to sponsor the newly-introduced Sheikh Kamal School & Madrasa Athletics Championships like Bangabandhu and Bangamata Gold Cup football tournaments, and instruct some state-owned organisations to take part in the national athletics championships like they did before," he urged before concluding that he envisions an optimistic future of Bangladesh athletics on the back of Imranur's success, provided the continuation of school athletics championships is ensured to create the pipeline for quality athletes.