The just-concluded Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast came as another wake-up call for Bangladesh as the country ended now fourth successive edition without any gold medal from the meet.
Since Asif Hossain struck gold at Manchester in 2002, Bangladesh had to remain content with a silver or bronze medal in Melbourne, Delhi, Glasgow and that too only owing to its shooters.
As a continual process, shooters Abdullah Hel Baki and Shakil Ahmed now earned two silver medals for Bangladesh in Gold Coast to help the country put their name in the medals tally.
Among the four countries from Indian sub-continent that participated in the meet, Bangladesh finished only ahead of Sri Lanka, even though the Islanders won more medals than Bangladesh.
Their single silver came in weightlifting and five bronzes came from boxing and weightlifting. Pakistan also won one gold and four bronzes in wrestling, weightlifting-the two disciplines where Bangladesh had also participated.
Bangladesh had been participating in Commonwealth Games since 1978 but apart from shooting it could not produce a single medal-winning athlete from any discipline in 40 years.
Physical strength was cited as one reason as Bangladeshis are ethnically shorter but an athlete pointed out that this should not be an excuse for Bangladesh’s failure for not winning a medal in any discipline other than shooting.
Indian and Sri Lankans won a lot of medals with the similar physical structure, showing Bangladesh athletes lacked mostly the facilities and training in order to be successful.
Bangladesh weightlifters complained that they had been allotted Tk 600 for food during training, which they said was nothing compared to their need for good food intake.
A swimmer said he was given the cheapest costume during the meet, which might not hamper his performance but came as a good indicator of the kind of facilities they had been provided with during the training.
Athletes said they needed not only a long-term training but also proper nutrition and gym facilities to improve their performance and bring success to international meets.
Bangladesh Olympic Association often cited lack of fund as a major drawback, but an official revealed in Gold Coast that the country spent more money for participating in the meet than training the athletes.
According to BOA Secretary General Syed Shahed Reza, Bangladesh spent Tk two crore for participating in the meet but a lot less (Tk 1.3 core) for the training of the athletes.
Coaches and organisers said that Bangladesh should change their sports policy so that it could ensure long-term training for potential athletes in order to be successful in international meets.
‘After this meet, our weightlifters will go back to home without knowing when they should report back for next meet. You cannot be successful this way,’ said Weightlifting coach Bidyut Kumar Roy.
‘We believe that we have the ability to win a medal from Commonwealth level but without long-term preparation and proper facilities it will never happen,’ he added.
Shooting federation officials said one of the reasons for them to be relatively successful was that they could hire a coach for a long-term and ensure that he was paid reasonably.
‘We need to spend Tk 4 crore every year for our coaches. The National Sports Council gave us Tk two crore but we managed the rest from individual sponsors,’ said Bangladesh Shooting Sports Federation secretary general Intikhabul Hamid.
Unlike shooting, most of the federation officials on different occasions said they are dependent on government to run their activities and pay a foreign coach if there is any.
‘It’s not possible for us to run training camp round the year only because we lack fund,’ said Bangladesh Athletics Federation president SM Ali Kabir.
‘Sometimes BOA gave us some money for training but they also have their own limitations,’ he said, adding that his federation got only Tk 19 lakh from the government in 2017-18 to run their activities.
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