Better safe than sorry
Bangladesh's premier golfer Siddikur Rahman is prepared to forego the riches on offer in the Indian tour and even the lure of a second Olympics participation in order to be safe and secure from the clutches of Covid-19.
The two-time Asian Tour winner and the only Bangladeshi to participate in the Olympics through qualification, in Rio 2016, has said that life and safety comes first for him and feels that there is no point taking risks that at such a difficult situation like this.
The 36-year-old was supposed to go to India to participate in two events of PGTI -- the chief golfing tour of the country -- which would have helped him earn precious ranking points required to be in contention for next year's Olympics. However, with the second wave of coronavirus pandemic all but here, Siddikur has opted against travelling to India.
"I had registered and bought tickets too for these events. But the coronavirus situation is getting very bad, both in our country and in India. So I've decided not to go," Siddikur told The Daily Star.
"The second wave is here already. If I get infected in India, there will be a lot of trouble. So it's better being safe than being sorry," said Siddikur, who has won seven PGTI events in his career.
The two events that Siddikur is skipping are the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational, which takes place in Chandigarh from December 3 to 6 and the Tata Steel Tour Championship taking place from December 17 to 20 in Jamshedpur. Both events carry a prize purse of 1.5 crore rupees, and even though Siddikur will not be there, there will be Bangladeshi representation in the form of Jamal Mollah, Mohammad Sayum and Badal Hossain.
Siddikur, who last played competitive golf in the first week of March this year, is not bothered about the prize money or the chance of getting back to competitive golf.
"These are not that big prize purses to be honest. I would have much preferred playing the Asian Tour or tours in Malaysia or Thailand. But Asian Tour is not happening at the moment and countries like Malaysia are not allowing visas to Bangladeshis. So I guess I'll wait for a few more months," Siddikur said.
"Although it is difficult not to be playing golf, I am willing to bide time. Having said that, I'm preparing myself with intensive training at the Army golf club, of course maintaining proper precaution. We don't get much time to work on our weaknesses with the busy schedule round-the-year. So I'm trying to work on those areas and staying prepared so that when tours start in full swing, I can immediately join in," Siddikur added.
Skipping the Indian tour means not only giving up on match-practice and prize money, but perhaps more crucially, foregoing the slim chance of qualifying for the rescheduled 2020 Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo in July-August next year. Siddikur accepts the situation and is looking towards future.
"I really wanted to be in the Olympics and for that I had to be playing on tours. But I can understand the situation and console myself saying that I have already participated in one Olympics. And there will hopefully be more opportunities for me to participate in future," the ace golfer said.