It's been only a decade and half since Bangladesh started getting involved with world archery and Saturday's Asian Archery Championship will not only open a new door to the country's archery scenario but can also be a big platform for the Bangladesh archers to prove their worth.
Winning a medal in Asia's biggest archery event has never been Bangladesh's target and this time around, being a host nation, the archery federation set their highest expectation in reaching the semi-finals, that so in the recurve individual and recurve mixed event where Bangladesh archers have tasted the most success in the international stage.
The archery federation Thursday announced a 25-member national squad for the AAC as well as for the continental qualification tournament 2018, which includes 18 archers, four coaches and three officials. The top performer among them is Mohammad Ruman Shana, who is one of the four members in the recurve team along with Commonwealth Youth Games gold medalist Mohammad Tamim Islam, Ibrahim Sheikh Rezwan and Hakim Ahmed Rubel, who won gold in the mixed team event in the Youth Archery Championship in Russia, along with Radia Akhter Shapla.
Along with Shapla, the women's recurve team also comprise Beauty Ray, Nasrin Akter and Rabeya Khatun while the women's compound team, which won silver in the Asian Cup, consists of Susmita Banik, Roksana Akter, Bonna Akter and Bipasa Akter. Abul Kashem Mamun, Mohammad Nazmul Huda, Mohammad Milon Molla and Ehsan Ahmed form the men's compound team.
Bangladesh's Indian coach Nisith Das believes Ruman and Ibrahim have the ability to finish among the top 10 and if everything clicks, then they can even make it to the semi-finals. Ruman also set his expectation of reaching the last-four, adding that it would be very difficult playing against the world's top archers. Ruman reached the quarter-finals in the last edition in Bangkok, 2015 where he scored 333 points. His coach Nisith informed that Ruman's recent practice achievement is 341 and 342 points which he mentioned as “big improvement”. Nisith also praised Ibrahim's temperament and Tamim's team spirit.
Bipasa, Nasrin, Ibrahim and Rubel took part in many international tournaments before but this will be their first time in a big event like the AAC. The team have been preparing for the tournament in the last eight months.
In the previous edition two years ago, Bangladesh men's and women's recurve team, compound men's and mixed team finished ninth while compound women's team were placed seventh.
Recurve mixed team also managed a place in top 10 but there were no Bangladesh representatives among the top 10 in the compound men's and women's individual events, and also in the recurve women's individual event.
Bangladesh archers couldn't take full advantage of being a host nation as well as to practice enough at the match venue, BNS, before the tournament. The team held their practice session at Maulana Bhasani National Hockey Stadium but Ruman said their preparation would have been much better if they had the opportunity to practise at the BNS for at least one week. Archery federation president Mohammad Mainul Islam said they tried to get the venue earlier but NSC only allotted them the venue from Thursday night to start their preparation.