Of pride and glory | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 01, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:53 PM, January 01, 2017

Of pride and glory

Truth be told, 2016 wasn't as exciting a year as 2015 as far as Bangladesh's sports arena is concerned. The previous year witnessed Bangladesh's most sought-after sportsmen, the cricketers, surpass boundaries that their fans couldn't have even imagined. The expectations naturally increased in 2016 but weren't met with enough cricket, although the Tigers did go on to win a historic Test against England. Football's drastic fall in 2016 was another aspect that demotivated the country's sports fans. However, the achievements of the Under 16 girls football team and the medals that our athletes won in the Asian Games in 2016 have given us reasons to hope for a much better 2017. 

Mustafizur Rahman's operation didn't allow him to feature for Bangladesh during the crucial games in 2016. But that didn't stop him from receiving accolades. For close to two months Bangladeshi cricket fans were glued on to their TV screens to watch a foreign league and that was all because of this youngster. He was adjudged as the Indian Premier League's Emerging Player of the Year in his very first season and won the title with the Sunrisers Hyderabad. The biggest moment came when the cutter master won the ICC Emerging Player of the Year 2016.

Aside from spreading fear, the militant attacks in Bangladesh also threatened to affect the country's sporting events. There were teams who were initially skeptical about touring the country, but changed their minds soon after they landed. One of the biggest achievements of the Bangladesh Cricket Board was to host the ICC Under-19 World Cup successfully amidst these nervy conditions. Bangladesh didn't get to win the trophy, the West Indies did. The tournament though led to the birth of a new superstar for the Tigers. Mehedi Hasan Miraz, the captain of the former under 19 team, was the player of the tournament back then and eventually found his way through to the top eleven.

An excited Shakib Al Hasan salutes Ben Stokes after bowling him out on the third day of the second Test. This picture perhaps best describes how important Bangladesh's Test win against England was in early 2016. It was touted by many cricketing pundits as Bangladesh's biggest win in cricketing history, let alone 2016.

The Bangladesh Under 16 football girls provided the only delight in a rather depressing year for the country's football fans when they won the AFC Under 16 regional qualifiers. As a result of the win they have now made it through to the AFC Under 16 Cup where they will be battling it out with the best football teams.

Mabia Akter Simanta was in tears while singing the national anthem. It was a sight to behold. The teenager from Madaripur had won gold in weightlifting during the 2016 South Asian Games and, understandably so, couldn't control her emotions. Her reaction left the entire nation in a trance.

Mahfuza Akter won two gold medals in swimming at the 2016 South Asian Games.

Siddikur Rahman became the first Bangladeshi to qualify for the Olympics on merit. Prior to the golfer, every Bangladeshi athlete who took part in the Olympics made it because of the wild card entry system. Siddikur, on the other hand, finished second in an Asian tour in 2016 and managed to stay in top 60 rankings to eventually qualify. Many hope that this is the start of a new trend for Bangladesh as far as the Olympics are concerned.

Shakil Ahmed, who won gold in the 50m Pistol category, was one of many winners of the South Asian Games that took place in Guwahati.

Tamim Iqbal smashed the records by becoming the first Bangladeshi player to score a century in a T20I. His unbeaten 103 against Oman in Dharamshala during the first round of the ICC World Twenty20 was the reason why he also ended up as the highest run-getter of the tournament. 

The Under 16 football girls team were undoubtedly the most popular team in any sport in Bangladesh in 2016. They were bold both off and on the field.

Bangladesh's Under 18 hockey team did the nation proud by winning the AHF under 18 tournament for the third time on the trot. With the country's junior hockey players making the grade, one can hope for a brighter future with regard to this game. 

The Bangladeshi under 16 girls' football team wasn't the only group that did well in football in 2016. Their juniors, the under 14 national team, brought accolades by winning the AFC Under-14 Girls Regional (South and Central) Championship. The wins just go on to depict the bright future of women's football in the country.

It was a dreadful year for Bangladesh's booters. The national football team lost a crucial fixture against Bhutan during the Asia Qualifiers and as a result will not receive a chance to play in any AFC-sanctioned friendly for the next three years. That's a big loss considering that they won't be able to play competitive matches.

Russian gymnast Margarita Mamun, whose father hails from Bangladesh, won gold in the rhythmic gymnastics event of the Rio Olympics and brought great honour to her homeland of Russia. However, in paying homage to Bangladesh -- the birthplace of her father -- she honoured two nations at the same time. 

In what can only be described as a flabbergasting rise, Mehedi Hasan Miraz went from being the Bangladesh under-19 captain to Bangladesh's most threatening bowler during the England Tests. The youngster was awarded the player of the series as well. However, as the picture suggests, he remains down to earth and still craves to learn more.

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