While country's number one recurve archer Roman Sana failed to shine in two successive international championships, Roksana Akter and Ashim Kumar Das drew attention by winning gold medals in their respective individual compound events of the 2nd ISSF International Solidarity Archery Championships at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium yesterday.
Everyone perhaps kept Roksana out of consideration in women's individual compound final, especially when her opponent was last edition's gold medallist Fatimah Al Mashhadani of Iraq, who also won gold in 2015 Youth World Championship. But the girl from Savar stunned everyone to win the keenly contested final, claiming her first international gold medal since winning gold in the South Asian Archery Championships in March this year.
“There was obviously some pressure on me because she [Fatimah] won the gold in the last edition, but I was focused on winning,” said a smiling Roksana, who was once pressurised by her husband's family to quit archery. “I grew confident after a good practice session in the morning but I could not get off to a good start and was mentally down a little bit before coach Ziaul Haque encouraged me saying that there was still a lot of time left. And I forgot the previous shots and looked forward,” said Roksana, who took up the game in 2012.
Replying to a query, Roksana said, “What I have been scoring at the moment is not good enough to compete at high-level competitions. If I can improve qualification scores to 690-695 from 670-675, I will have confidence to fight against the world's best archers in elimination round.”
Ashim Kumar, however, is producing world-class scores regularly in the qualification round and the 28-year-old from Kurigram bagged gold medal in men's compound event after becoming first in the qualification round with a career-best score of 690.
“Though Mamun bhai is more experienced than me, he did not do well in the finals of team and mixed compound event and since then I was confident that I would win gold if I could put my natural performance,” said Ashim, who got inspiration to play archery after watching Indian female archer Deepika Kumari on television.
Ashim, who has an agriculture diploma, started to play archery individually in 2014 after buying a bamboo bow with Tk 15,000 and was severely criticised by his neighbours but he never gave up, instead contacted with archery coaches for tips. He eventually made it to the national team this year and represented Bangladesh B Team in SA Archery Championship and delivered gold medal in his second international appearance.
“What I have been scoring at the moment is good enough to play in World Cup and Asian Archery but it will be tough to fight in quarterfinals, semifinals and final. I want to improve my qualification scores to compete in elimination round,” said Ashim.