The advent of any international sports event gives rise to all sorts of speculations and analysis in Bangladesh and the South Asian Games drummed up high anticipation and interest.
After SA Games began in Nepal in 1984, Bangladesh achieved the highest number of gold medals in one event. That was back in 2010 when Bangladesh was holding the event for the third time, the first ever country to hold the event for three times.
In the in 13th SA Games held in Nepal this year, Bangladesh received 19 gold medals, toppling previous records along with 33 silvers and 90 bronzes. This is the best achievement for Bangladesh in this multi sports event in terms of medals. Bangladesh was applaued for the success.
The female athletes deserve more compliments for making a big contribution in scoring golds. They earned 11 golds including 6 medals at an individual level. Bangladeshi girls are making rapid strides in the sporting arena.
Eti Khatun displayed great success in archery at an individual, team and mixed group level. She became the first female athlete of Bangladesh to win 3 gold medals in the SA Games. These girls must ben given a safe and convenient sporting ground in the country as the scope of sports is steadily increasing. Bangladesh sent teams to 25 out of 26 events in the game event known as the South Asian Olympics in three cities of Nepal, including Kathmandu, Pokhara, on 1-10 December. The players exceeded all expectations.
However, there is no room for complacency as one of the top competitor countries India did not send teams for many events in this year SA Games. Bangladesh, however, received 10 gold medals out of 19 in archery. Incidentally, there are 10 events of archery in total.
India did not take part in the archery event in the SA games this time due to an international ban. India won all 10 golds in 2016 SA Games while Bangladesh received three silver and three bronze medals. In the previous two games, Bangladesh won two silver and four bronze medals. Bangladeshi athletes have improved significantly in archery.
India did not send teams for cricket and other sports including karate. And Bangladesh's gold tally leapt from 4 last time to 15 this time round. Besides the 10 in archery, Bangladesh won two golds in karate, two in cricket and weightlifting each and one in taekwondo and fencing each. The most disappointing part is, Bangladesh's major weakness has appeared in many sports once again. Bangladesh did not get any medals in volleyball, basketball, cycling and tennis. It only got one silver medal in athletics.
In this game Bangladesh has not won a single gold in the last three games after 2006. Bangladesh did not win any gold in shooting that won the highest number of 22 golds previously. The performance of the swimming team, the second highest- 17 gold medal winning event- was extremely disappointing. The Bangladeshi swimmers this time could not secure the two medals won in the last event. Bangladesh is far behind in games like table tennis and badminton.
As a whole, statistics will reveal the position of Bangladesh in South Asian sports. Bangladesh has won only 86 out of the 2,045 gold in 13 SA games, which is only a little over 4% of the total gold. India won 1,262 golds while Pakistan won 299, Sri Lanka 250 and Nepal 124 gold medals in 13 events. Significantly, this time Bangladesh won the record 19 golds, but Bangladesh remains at number five in the medal list. Being fifth among seven countries is not at all satisfying. We should try to move forward with a long-term plan now. The success in archery proves that efforts can make the change.