Dipu Chakma could hardly believe his feat after he won Bangladesh the first gold medal of the 13th South Asian Games in Lalitpur, Nepal yesterday.
The 31-year-old from Bangladesh Army beat competitors from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Nepal in the taekwondo poomsae 29-year-above category with a score of 16.24 points. Sri Lanka’s Laxmanil Andariee grabbed silver, 0.02 points behind Dipu.
Although Bangladesh expected two gold medals from taekwondo, it was a pleasant surprise to see the gold coming on the first morning of medal-deciding competition.
All the attention of media in the morning was on kata events of karate, where Humaira Akhter Antara won the first medal for the country, a bronze, before Hassan Khan Sun, a gold-medallist from the 2010 SA Games, followed suit. Another bronze came from the women’s team event.
Sun was tipped to win a gold, so his third-place finish had deflated the Bangladesh contingent. Just at that time came the good news from taekwondo as Dipu secured a first gold medal for the red and greens on the second day of the Games and the first medal-deciding day.
Dipu was almost lost for words when the Bangladeshi journalists thronged to him for photographs and comments. The lanky man gathered his thoughts before saying: “I’m still in a trance. I can’t express my feelings in words. We’ve here to represent the nation and the fact that the first gold came through me makes me very proud.”
Hailing from Rangamati, Dipu started taekwondo in 2001 after being influenced by his elder brother, who used to practice the sport once. Watching martial art movies of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan had also played a part in growing his interest towards taekwondo, which is a Korean form of martial arts, making its first foray into the SA Games in 1999.
But he never participated in the South Asian Games despite winning a few gold medals in unofficial tournaments abroad. Winning gold in this competition was obviously something very special.
“I had a dream of raising the Bangladesh flag on a stage like this with the national anthem playing. The dream started when I got called for the national team camp after three years of service for Bangladesh Army. Today that dream has come true,” Dipu said with a broad grin of satisfaction.
The day got better for Dipu as he later bagged a bronze medal, pairing with Mousumi Akter. Bangladesh grabbed five more bronze medals in other events of taekwondo and looked on course to record their best-ever tally in this sport.
Bangladesh first won a gold medal in taekwondo 2006 in Colombo before doubling the tally at home four years later. However, Bangladesh finished with only three bronze medals in the last Games in India three years ago.
Bangladesh Olympic Association secretary general Syed Shahed Reza, who was moving from one venue to another along with his colleagues, expressed confidence that Bangladesh would fare far better not only in taekwondo, but in other disciplines as well. “As I said before,we will do much better than previous times. I’m very happy with this gold medal and I am sure there will be more gold medals from taekwondo,” Reza said.