Former athletes and coaches blamed that lack of regular tournaments, proper panning from grassroots level and children’s inclination towards cricket and football were the reasons behind the downfall of athletics of the country.
The three-day long 40th National Athletic Championship concluded at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Saturday without any new national record.
According to the Bangladesh Athletic Federation, around 500 athletes from 35 district and services teams fought for 51 gold medals for this year’s championship.
It seems that new records have become a golden goose for the country’s athletes since Rasheduzzaman of Bangladesh Army set a new national record in the javelin throw event way back in 1994.
Since then, a total five national tournaments including — Bangladesh Games, National Championship and Summer Meet — had passed without any new national record.
‘The performances of the athletes would be up when they get regular playing opportunity,’ former fastest man of the country and coach of Bangladesh Krira Sikkha Protisthan, Abdullah Hel Kafi, said on Saturday.
‘When the performance of the athletes would be up, records would be created naturally.’
Kafi, who also guided the national players since the last South Asian Games earlier this year, asked the federation to set a fixed calendar.
‘We don’t have any fixed calendar which is why the athletes fail to set any future goal. Without any vision, you cannot improve.
‘Our players usually don’t get long-term training facilities because the teams and forces only bring their athletes ahead of any certain programmes or competitions.’
Azharul Islam, the national record holder in the discus throw event, blamed the federation for their lack of planning.
‘There was no significant planning over this year’s meet,’ said the veteran athlete of Bangladesh Navy.
‘Usually the national athletics is held in between March and April and by considering the time frame, the athletes take their preparation but this year, the federation held the tournament in December.’
Azhar, who set the national record in 2010 covering 44.98-metre, also thinks that the sport lacks talent because the talented ones are now more interested in cricket or football.
‘This year we didn’t see any records only because the youths lost their interest to become an athlete. They prefer to be a cricketer or a footballer,’ said the 45-year-old athlete.
‘There are also no programmes at the grassroots level which is why the overall standard has decreased.’
Federation general secretary Ibrahim Chengis claimed due to financial crisis they failed to hold all the meets on a regular basis.
‘We struggle a lot to manage a sponsor and National Sports Council only provides us very little money to hold all the meets every year,’ said Chengis.
Meanwhile, on the last day of the championship, Mohammad Ismail of Bangladesh Navy retained the gold medal in the long-jump event beating his team-mate Al-Amin.
Ismail covered 7.55 metres to retain the gold medal.
Bangladesh Army kept their dominance in the meet as they retained the championship with 51 medals including 19 golds, 13 silvers and as many bronze medals.
Bangladesh Navy became runners-up with a total of 26 medals including 11 golds, 11 silvers and four bronze medals.
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