Ety Khatun and Suma Biswash, two of the lesser-known archers from Bangladesh, could not hold back their tears as they rose to prominence by winning gold medals in the 13th South Asian Games to lead the country to unprecedented success, both for the discipline and the country.
Ety, the rising star of Bangladesh’s most successful sporting discipline of recent times, was relieved to add an individual gold to her tally, after having helped the team win two gold medals the previous day.
“I didn’t feel any tension during team events yesterday, but today I was feeling nervous. I didn’t have a good sleep last night due to the tension,” said the 14-year-old, who fought back from 2-3 sets down to beat Seema Sonam of Bhutan by 7-3 sets in the final.
Ety became a national star after her double-gold medal feat on Sunday. Suma, who comes from a very different background to Ety’s, having lived in Dhaka all her life, was not the favourite to win the final in her event. She had waited, quietly, for her moment of glory.
A sportsperson from her childhood, Suma had played cricket and was in contention for the women’s kho kho team before archery came calling.
Although Bangladesh won all 10 gold medals in archery, there was less expectation regarding a few events in the compound category. Suma was one of those who had inspired less faith for the team management.
“Yesterday when they were talking, I heard Zia sir [assistant coach Ziaur Rahman] say they were confident of gold from Ruman, Ety and Sohel. But he didn’t say my name. It made me all the more determined to do well,” said the 24-year-old, who was taught the game by her elder brother Anwar Hossain.
Sohel bagged the country’s other gold in the men’s individual compound before Ruman, the most successful archer of the country, fittingly ended proceedings with a 7-1 sets win in the men’s individual recurve final over Kinley Tshering of Bhutan.
It was a straightforward victory for Ruman, who achieved many an accolade in this calendar year.
The 24-year-old from Khulna started the year with a silver medal in the 3rd ISSF World Ranking Championship in Dhaka in February before winning a bronze medal in World Archery Championship in Netherlands in June, securing a quota place for next year’s Olympics. He added a gold medal to his growing cabinet in the Asia Cup (Stage-3) in Philippines in September before the three-gold haul in Pokhara.
It was a perfect end to a year that had started on a high and went even higher.
“This is my last international tournament of the year. It’s the best year of my 10-year career. This is also the best year for Bangladesh archery,” said Ruman, who was looking to participate in many more international events for a good outcome in the Olympics in Tokyo next year.