Athletics is considered as the mother discipline of any meet but Bangladesh’s athletes delivered an awful performance in the just concluded 12th South Asian Games.
Bangladesh won only two bronze medals from athletics in the meet, which was worst ever performance for the country in the discipline in SA Games history.
Once upon a time Bangladesh athletes used to bring gold medals from the South Asian Games regularly but those days are long gone.
At the first SAF Games in Nepal in 1984, Mujibur Rahman Mallik won the first athletics gold medal in long jump. Bangladesh team also won the gold medal in the 4×100-metre relay.
In the 4th SAF games in 1993 in Dhaka, Bimal Tarafdar of Bangladesh won a gold medal in the 100-metre sprint. In the 1995 SAF Games at Madras, Mahbub Alam of Bangladesh won the gold medal in the 200-metre sprint.
Bangladesh tasted their last gold in the track and field event in 2006 Colombo SAF Games when Mahfuzur Rahman Mithu grabbed the gold in the 110-metre hurdle.
Since then Bangladesh struggled to compete with their South Asian neighbours. In the 2010 edition at Dhaka Bangladesh won two silvers and four bronze medals.
Former athletes and officials said the ubiquitous hype of cricket in the nook and corner of the country took the attention of young generation away from athletics and many other sports.
National coach Abdullah Hel Kafi, who is also a coach of Bangladesh Krira Sikkha Protisthan, said they are facing lack of talented athletes only because of increasing popularity of cricket.
‘Young people now eagerly want to build their career as cricketers,’ said Kafi, a former fastest man of the country.
‘For example we don’t get enough students to admit in the athletics but at the same time hundreds of students vie to admit for cricket.
‘When we asked them to get admitted in athletics they say that they are only interested in cricket, not in any other sports.’
Kafi also blamed the high-ups of Bangladesh Athletics Federation for not taking any proper plan to produce talents from grass-root level.
‘Federation doesn’t have any long-term plan and its high-ups only show their interest when an international meet knocks at the door,’ Kafi said.
‘Without taking long-term plan to produce talents from district level, it’s not possible to compete with the neighbouring nations. They get regular success because they have proper plan.’
Kafi also asked the high-ups to bring a foreign coach right now considering the next edition SA Games in Kathmandu in 2019.
National award winning athlete Sufiya Khatun, who is the chief coach of BKSP, slammed the federation for their listlessness.
‘All the officials are unfit to run the federation properly and they got the result with this miserable performance in the SA Games,’ said Sufiya.
‘They don’t love the game and they only love how to get undue advantages.
‘They don’t know how to nurture an athlete and who will be fit to coach them. They provide undue advantage to the unworthy people who never know how to coach an athlete.’
‘Under those bad people it’s not possible to find the right way.’
Mujibur Rahman Mallik, the first gold medallist athlete in SAF Games history, expressed his disappointment over the poor state of athletics.
‘Both federation and athletes are equally responsible for the downfall. The federation is reluctant to develop the game as well as I don’t see any personal interest of the athletes to improve one’s performance.’
After the debacle, the federation also realised that this is the right time to think differently.
‘This performance can be an eye-opener for us because we have to think differently to run the game,’ said BAF joint secretary Milzer Hossain, who admitted that they have also some negligence for not setting any proper planning.
‘It’s true that we failed to boost the interest of district level organisers to patronise the game,’ he said adding that, ‘federation has to take the responsibility for not using electronic timer regularly to find out the actual timing of the athletes.
‘We have all modern instruments to mark the timing but only because of lacking of operator the instruments remain useless for long time.’
Source: New Age