Ruman Sana was knocked out in the second round (1/16 elimination) of the men's individual event by 6-4 set points in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics 2020 on Tuesday. The ace archer lost only by a point in the deciding set which will surely haunt Ruman for a long long time. He began the day with a win in the first round over Tom Hall of England in the morning.
With his elimination, Bangladesh's hope of finally securing an Olympic gold vanished right away.
Diya Siddique, another promising archer from the country, still remains in the race, but the hopes aren't too high on her.
Ruman Sana showed great promise ahead of the ongoing Tokyo Olympics 2020. He along with Diya Siddique reached the final of recurve mix event at the Archery World Cup just a few months ago. And they also qualified for the pre-quarterfinal stage of the recurve mixed event in the Games. So there were expectations, especially on Ruman.
The other four participants representing Bangladesh in Tokyo Games - Mohammad Jahir Rayhan (Men's 400m), Abdullah Hel Baki (Men's 10m air rifle), Mohammed Ariful Islam (Men's 50m freestyle) and Junayna Ahmed (Women's 50m freestyle) - are not really expected to go any further than the qualification round. Among them, shooter Abdullah Hel Baki has already been eliminated from the qualifiers.
As it stands, Bangladesh are waiting to complete yet another Olympics without securing a single medal.
A total of 49 athletes from Bangladesh have so far participated in 10 Olympics and failed to reach the Olympic podium for once, summer or winter.
The best performances by Bangladeshi athletes have so far been by Siddiqur Rahman who clinched his spot in Rio by finishing 55th out of 60 in the final qualifying round, Abdullah Hel Baki in the 2016 men's air rifle shooting, when he finished 25th of 50 competitors, Quazi Syque Caesar in 2012 men's parallel bars when he finished 27th of 71 competitors, and by Sharmin Ratna in 2012 women's air rifle shooting, when she finished 27th of 56 competitors.
Among them, only Sidduqur Rahman went on to the finals and most of them had an entry through wild cards and failed to get through the qualifiers.
We cheered for all of them with little hope. But no one could bring the medal home.
Bangladesh thus remain one of the 72 countries and the most populous one to never win an Olympic medal. Even nations like the Philippines and Bermuda - nations who had never won gold before - secured their first-ever gold medals in the Games.
Cambodia is the second-most populous country to not win an Olympic medal and their population is 15.7 million, one-tenth of Bangladesh's population.
The disappointing tale means Bangladesh boasts a worse Games record than Bahrain, Barbados, Bermuda, Botswana, Burundi and plenty of other nations who have won one, and only one medal in their history.
So the question arises, when will this wait end? The answer, however, remains unknown.
Ruman, after his defeat on Tuesday, said that he is targeting the 2028 Olympic gold and he will give his absolute best in 2024 as well. That, we can only hope.
Two of the biggest reasons for this continuous failure are money and a lack of proper planning.
Athletes simply don't earn enough money and don't get proper guidance to excel in the biggest sporting stage. If you ask, a lot of athletes will say they have some other profession to earn their livelihood.
A lack of planning is also easily visible. Once someone does well at any international stage, he/she gets hyped like Ruman Sana and Diya Siddique got this year after reaching the final of recurve mix event at the Archery World Cup. But what plan do they follow? Or what instructions and facilities do their federations provide? A simple answer would be, nothing. They don't even get proper coaches to train under.
"We have a huge gap in case of long-term planning, that's actually pretty visible. And our players also don't get international-level training. These are the two things holding us back," Enthekhabul Hamid, the General Secretary of Bangladesh Shooting Sport Federation told The Business Standard (TBS).
"Also we don't have enough money and there are no sponsors for us. All we have to do is depend on the government's help to go forward," he added.
The Bangladeshi athletes' contingent arrived at the 2016 Rio Olympics without their original coaches. Instead, officials acted as their coaches. The Bangladesh Swimming Federation general secretary Rafizuddin Rafiz served as the coach in Rio to swimmers Mahfizur Rahman Sagor and Sonia Akter Tumpa. Rafiz had no coaching background prior to that. Just a mere example of our lack of planning and proper infrastructure leading to the Olympics.
Also, the country's sole focus being on cricket, which is not an Olympic sport, is blamed by a lot of people.
The lack of sports infrastructure, facilities, opportunities and incentives available to youngsters to professionally take up a career in sports (other than cricket) is a major obstacle to our ability to venture past the likes of cricket and football (even football is struggling these days).
Also, most of our middle-class society and parents want their children to take the "middle" path i.e. choosing a career that comes with low risk but a greater surety of a stable life.
A career in sports doesn't really ensure that and fit into the middle path. There may be potential Olympians in the "middle class" but they are diverted to more mediocre career options to be able to secure their future and all. Sport is merely a pastime and never a priority for a majority of parents and their kids.
ASM Ali Kabir, the President of the Bangladesh Athletics Federation, thinks that we haven't reached the international level yet. And he mentioned not taking sports seriously is one of the reasons for that.
"We need a national awakening, or you can say, a revolution, to reach international level. First of all, we need a working sports commission who will provide guidelines for a better future and take the necessary steps to execute the plans. We need law enforcement to promote our sports as well," he said.
He further mentioned that this won't be that easy but the first steps need to be taken, soon.
The problem of Bangladesh's Olympic medal drought will never end unless we pick one or two sports that are included in the Olympics and invest significant money and resources to bring out more Ruman Sana and Siddiqur Rahman and train them properly for the biggest stage. It is time our policymakers made a strategic decision and a proper plan in opening the tally in the world's greatest sporting stage.