Sherin Sultana is set to represent Bangladesh as the first female wrestler in the Asian Games, the 18th edition of which will be held in Jakarta and Palembang this month. Although she is not quite expected to win any medals in the multi-discipline sporting event, arguably considered the second most important of such events after the Olympics, she can be content with the fact that she has already made her mark in Bangladesh's sports history.
The lady from Mymensingh will be Bangladesh's first female wrestler to be at these games after she had become Bangladesh's first female wrestler in the South Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. Her unique achievements do not end here. While Bangladesh did not participate in wrestling in the last Asian Games in Incheon four years ago, she did not miss out as she represented the green flag in wushu. She said she was equally good at both disciplines.
"I used to wrestle from childhood. Then I moved to wushu and did well there too. So I got selected for the last Asian Games squad and did well in Incheon as a wushu player," Sherin said while talking to The Daily Star yesterday.
However, wrestling is the sport where she has made the most impression. She won junior and national level gold medals consecutively from 2009 to 2016 while winning a gold medal in the Indo-Bangladesh Bangla Games in 2012. As her performances on the wrestling mat started to get noticed, she stuck to the game and made her mark by winning a silver medal in the last South Asian Games in India in 2016.
And it has been an upward curve for her since, despite taking part in increasingly bigger platforms. She went on to win a bronze medal in the Islamic Solidarity Games the following year before missing out on a bronze at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games earlier this year.
Sherin admits the gulf in difference between the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games is huge, but if provided long-term training under foreign coaches, there is no reason that gulf cannot be bridged to bring success in the Asian Games.
"We should forget the theme that we are going only for participation," she said. "If we are provided long-term training under good foreign coaches, we can definitely win medals at these games."
And that is what has been lacking for Sherin and her two male teammates who will represent the country in wrestling in Jakarta.
"We started training on July 1 and will end it on August 15. The training period is too short. We need long-term training if we are to expect medals," she felt.
Hence the best the 68-kg weight category wrestler can hope for, at the moment, is a good show in Jakarta -- winning a match or two -- which might change the mindset of the decision-makers.
"We will try to do our best. Most teams are ahead of us. But if we can win the first round matches, that will definitely take us a long way," Sherin said.