The Bangabandhu National Athletics Championships came to an end at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday in usual fashion, with services teams maintaining their stranglehold in the 44th edition, which produced one national record.
Bangladesh Navy bagged 21 gold, 12 silver and 13 bronze medals in a successful defence of their title, which was their third successive triumph along with another national and one summer championship. Bangladesh Army had to be content with second place with 13 gold, 20 silver and nine bronze medals. Bangladesh Ansar, who won one gold, five silver and six bronze medals, finished third.
There were hardly any expectations of discovering anyone promising, especially factoring in the long layoff due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Bangladesh athletics' unimpressive state over the past decade. Experienced campaigners dominated as expected in all events bar the high jump, in which Ritu Akter of Bangladesh Army created a new record by clearing an impressive 1.70 meters, a height that would perhaps be enough to win a medal at the South Asian Games.
Sprinters Mohammad Ismail, Zahir Rayhan and Shirin Akter made pleas for advanced training programmes abroad to improve themselves as only Rayhan could improve on his time in the last edition of the meet.
A talent like Umme Hafsa Rumki had also sought advanced training after creating a national record in the women's high-jump in 2019 by clearing 1.68 meters. She maintained her previous height, but lost her crown to Ritu.
Two prominent coaches, Abdullah Hel Kafi and Farid Khan, who worked with Bangladesh Army and Bangladesh Navy on a contractual basis, also backed the athletes' desires to receive advanced training either at home or abroad.
"Bangladeshi coaches are not given proper training facilities compared to what foreign coaches are given. So, I agree that athletes should be sent abroad. But I think it is better to bring foreign coaches here to train more athletes instead of sending one or two athletes abroad. They could also engage local coaches, who will also learn from foreign coaches," Kafi opined.
"To be honest, Bangladesh's athletics is confined to Bangladesh Army and Bangladesh Navy and BKSP is working as a pipeline to provide promising athletes. I believe there are some talented athletes in both services teams, especially in Navy, and if we can nurse them well then we can get out of the current situation a bit," Kafi added.
Navy coach Farid said: "It is true that we have good athletes but there is no alternative to good training to achieve any target. I think if the federation brings foreign coaches for athletes, then local coaches will also get an opportunity to learn something new from them and apply it in future."