Karateka Al Amin Islam once used to follow movements and techniques of foreign karatekas, but now he is the one being followed by local karatekas and that is happening after his gold medal haul in the South Asian (SA) Games in Nepal last December.
Al Amin is one of three gold medallist karatekas from Bangladesh in the 13th edition of the regional multi-sports jamboree in Kathmandu and the 26-year-old from Bangladesh Army has already started preparation for the 2021 SA Games during this coronavirus pandemic.
"I used to be an ordinary karateka but the situation has changed a lot after I won gold medal in the SA Games. The neighbours now come to meet me and my teammates and students of my childhood club [Young Dragon Martial Art Centre] in Rajshahi come to me for advice. They even follow my technique in practice sessions. It is really pleasing for me because I used to follow techniques of foreign karatekas during different international meets I participated in and now I am being followed by others," Al Amin told The Daily Star from Rajshahi.
Al Amin cruised to the title in 60kg category after beating opponents from Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan. His success at the regional games was not a fluke at all as he won at least eight gold medals at national and international events prior to that.
Al Amin was forced into karate by his uncle Shariful Islam at the age of nine. He emerged district champion in 2001 at the age of 12 before taking a long time to make his debut in the national championship in 2011 where he won a bronze medal in under-60kg weight category, a feat which helped him get a job in Bangladesh Army in 2013.
Since then Al Amin started adding feathers to his crown. He became national champion in 2015 and defended his title in 2017 and 2019 [national championships were held irregularly] and won gold in different international meets such as the 2017 five-nation international karate in Punjab, 2017 4th International Karate championship in Kolkata, 2018 international karate championships in Cambodia, 2018 International Karate championships in Barasat and 2019 South Asian Karate Championship in Dhaka.
"After winning gold medal in the SA Games, a big change came within me and I have promised myself to defend the gold in the next SA Games, which may take place in Pakistan in 2021 or 2022. I have been preparing myself from now on because I don't want to waste time. I even practised regularly during my one-month vacation as I don't want to gain weight," said Al Amin, who was supposed to join Bangladesh Army yesterday and start training today following a month-long vacation.
The lad from Rajshahi, however, feels that he needs to improve his technique to move forward and needs support from his coaches and the federation.
"An athlete starts dreaming for more success once he succeeds in any meet. I realised my first dream and now I am looking forward to winning a gold medal at Asian level. If I can fulfil my dream at Asian level, I will dream to win medal in Olympics.
"To be honest, I have got the speed which is very important in karate but I think I need to improve more technically to realise my dream and it will only happen when I am given better training under foreign coach and allowed participation in more international tournaments. The federation can play a role in this regard," said Al Amin, who was promoted to Lance Corporal's position after the SA Games.
Karate made its debut in the 2010 SA Games in Dhaka where Bangladeshi karatekas won four gold medals but the discipline was dropped in the 2016 SA Games in India before it made a return in the 2019 SA Games. Bangladeshi karatekas have proved that karate can be a gold-winning discipline for the country.