This article was published in the September issue of the Sports Tribune Magazine
Although boat racing, or nouka baich, is a traditional sport in Bangladesh, the eight events of rowing discipline at the Asian Games are a bit different.
One of the key differences is that it is played on a lake during the Asiad while in Bangladesh, hundreds of rivers make up the venues for the game.
Aminul Islam Methu, who became the first rower from Bangladesh to represent the country in Asia’s biggest multi-sports event in August, also informed that the boats he used to practise with are also different in making and a bit expensive as well, before talking about the absence of suitable lakes for rowing in Bangladesh.
Methu had his practice camp in West Bengal’s Rabindra Sarobar, also known as Dhakuria Lake, situated in south Kolkata, for one month, and four days before flying for Indonesia in August.
The rowing events began at Jakabaring Lake in Palembang on August 20. After arriving there, the first thing he had to do is hire a boat for practice for $50,000.
“There are two types of boats a rower must need, one for racing and another for practice. The one I practised with in Kolkata weighed 16-17kg while in Palembang it was only 14kg, so light, like the weight of a banana tree,” said Methu while returning home after completing his event.
“Teams like South Korea, Japan and China brought their own boats here, but we don’t have a boat or lake to practice in. India have many lakes for rowing in different states, those are even better than Dhakuria Lake. Despite our country being the land of rivers, we don’t have the lakes the game require,” added the 29-year old.
Accompanied with no coach, Methu participated in the lightweight category of the singles skulls event where 12 rowers from as many countries took part with South Korea, Hong Kong and India winning gold, silver and bronze medal respectively.
Despite being placed 11th with one of the participants excluded before the Final B race, Methu was content with his debut performance, treating it as a big experience in his career. He was also praised by the Bangladesh Rowing Federation's general secretary, Haji Mohammad Khorshed Alam, who accompanied Methu during the Games.
Both Khorshed and Methu talked about the federation’s failed attempts in getting Gulshan and Hatirjheel lakes in proper condition for rowing.
The federation now looks forward to the proposed 43km long artificial lake being developed in the Purbachol residential area.