Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Womanpower drives hosts

Bangla-desh’s female athletes may have been outperformed by their male team-mates in the end, but their success has contributed to a large extent to the hosts’ outstanding results in the just-concluded SA Games.
Bangladesh claimed as many as 18 gold medals that took them to third place in the medals table, a position that they enjoyed only once in the past and that too 24 years ago. Bangladesh has doubled the tally from nine that they won in the first SA Games at home in 1985 Former athletes and officials said it would not have been possible if the girls did not rise to the occasion.
In the past the Bangladeshi girls had never won a gold medal in the regional meet apart from shooting and it was reflected in the medals tally as the hosts had won a maximum of 11 golds previously.
This time the expectation was also not very high from the female athletes. In the Bangladesh contingent, against 231 male athletes the number of female athletes was less than half –101.
But proportionately the female athletes had the higher success rate. While Bangladesh’s males won 10 gold medals, the females have won eight gold medals. The picture could have gone to girls’ favour had the boys not won four gold medals on the penultimate day.
The Bangladeshi girls, mostly from the low-income group of the society, flexed their muscles in the events where power is required to excel which prompted the officials to call the hosts’ success ‘womanpower’.
Sharmin Akhter Ratna, Syeda Sadia Sultana and Tripti Datta carried on the tradition of female shooters winning both the individual and team gold medals in women’s 10-metre Air Rifle.
Sharmin Farzana Rumi and Shammi Akhter opened a new horizon winning two gold medals in taekwondo while Eti Islam gave the Chinese martial art wushu a new identity in Bangladesh winning a gold.
Karate is not an unknown sport in Bangladesh as many used to learn this Japanese martial art for self defence. But the game had no international credential in Bangladesh until the SA Games.
Jaw-U-Prue Marma, Usain Marma, Munni Khanam and Marium Khatun took the game to a new height in Bangladeshi winning as many as three gold medals.
Even in the events like athletics and swimming that produced no gold for Bangladesh, the girls have proved that they were the best bet for the hosts. Sumita Rani won two silvers from hurdle and relay race while Mahfuza Khatun won two silvers from the pool. Both Sumita and Mahfuza lamented with a little help from Lady Luck they also could have made their mark in the event.
‘It’s not an unexpected result at all. The social pattern has been changed over the past few decades and everyone is now equally caring their girls like the boys and it has just been reflected in the result sheets,’ said Rachida Afzalunnesa, a former national handball player and a Dhaka University blue.
‘Hardly there is any difference between a boy and a girl now in a family. Like boys, the girls also have the confidence to shine in any sector. This is one of the reasons that we are seeing now more girls are coming to sports,’ she added.
Zobaira Rahman Linu, a former table tennis champion, said the girls have got success because they are sincere.
‘Girls are always sincere in their jobs. And also they tend to work hard. We have seen this in the past few months in different training camps. Our girls knew what they need to do and they did that with utmost sincerity,’ said Linu.
Qamrunnahar Dana, a former general secretary of the Bangladesh Women’s Sports Federation and a former national badminton champion, also sees a hard work behind the success of the Bangladeshi girls.
‘We were always hopeful about them. They worked hard in training and have dedicated themselves to sports. They also received support from their families which was crucial,’ she said.

Courtesy of NewAgebd

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