Bangladesh’s archers completed an unprecedented perfect-10 before men’s cricket team successfully defended their gold medal to set-up a new record for Bangladesh in the South Asian Games in Nepal on Monday.
The late gold surge on the penultimate day took Bangladesh’s gold medal to 19 in the 13th South Asian Games in Kathmandu and Pokhara, one up from their previous best haul of 18 gold medals in the 2010 Dhaka meet.
Bangladesh had archery to thank for their rich haul of gold as the players of the discipline made the best use of the absence of their key rivals India, who could not participate in the meet due to a suspension.
Roman Shana and Ety Khatun claimed three gold medals each, including one each on Monday respectively in men’s and women’s recurve event, to lead Bangladesh’s gold rush in archery field.
Bangladesh won six gold medals out of six team events on the previous day before Shana, Ety, Suma Biswash and Sohel Rana added four gold medals from four individual events on the final day of archery.
The gold sweep in Pokhara made archery the most successful discipline for Bangladesh in a single edition of South Asian Games, surpassing shooting, which earned seven gold medals in 1993 in Dhaka.
Suma earned the day’s first gold in women’s individual compound event rather unexpectedly when she beat her Sri Lankan opponent Anuradha Karunarathne by 142-134 points.
Of the 10 archery events Bangladesh made it to the final it was the only one where the officials had some doubt considering the low profile of finalist Suma, who came to Nepal only as a reserve player.
Sohel beat Tandin Dorji of Bhutan by 137-136 points to bring the day’s second gold in men’s individual compound event after Ashim Kumar Das won a bronze medal in the same event.
Ety trailed Sonam Dema initially before winning by 7-3 sets to bring home her third gold, the highest by a female athlete of Bangladesh in a single edition of SA Games.
‘My coach was encouraging me from behind and telling me where I was making mistake. So I did not repeat them,’ said Ety, who found an escape route in archery from child marriage when she was just 11 in 2016.
Ety broke down in tears after she won her third gold, the most coveted one by herself.
‘My parents did not want me to do archery. But when I started playing well they also started encouraging me. They are now very happy,’ said a tearful Ety, who admitted to have spent a sleepless night before her individual event.
Shana competed in Bangladesh’s final archery event and did not toil much to beat Kinley Tshering of Bhutan by 7-1 points and completed Bangladesh’s perfect-10 in the discipline.
‘It has been a long year. ISSF in February, World Championship in June, Asian Archery last month. It’s a very nice finish to the year with 10 out of 10. Overall, it’s a perfect year,’ said Bangladesh’s German coach Martin Frederic.
Hours after archery ended their event, men’s emerging team thrashed Sri Lanka by seven wickets in Kathmandu to bring the record 19th gold medal for Bangladesh in the Games.
It was not all about archery and cricket as Bangladesh men’s fencing team comprising Rezaul Karim, Rubel Mia, Saddam Hosain and Rakib Mia won a silver medal in foil team while women’s team won a bronze in sabre.
In swimming 4X100 metre relay, Bangladesh’s Jewel Ahmed, Ariful Islam, Nurunnabi Nahid and Asif Reza won a silver medal after the technical committee ruled out Sri Lanka, who originally finished second behind India. In 56kg weight category of boxing, Bangladesh’s Robin Mia won another silver medal.
A few other bronze medals came from wrestling, boxing and shooting to inflate Bangladesh’s medal tally to what now can easily be said is their most successful SA Games campaign.
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