The indomitable spirit, raw courage and elementary skills of our unspoiled girl footballers have helped them create history. Possibly their success has surprised them more than it has done others. To say the least, they have taken our expectation level to the Himalayan heights. Bravo girls, all the best to you all in the upcoming matches!
In another part of the world our male booters have performed so pathetically that even our prime minister could not help but pass a comment. We felt the same way and we do share her frustration. But these are reports on smaller sporting events held in small venues. What about our performance in bigger events? Olympics for example?
The Bangladeshi athletes who went to Rio to take part in the Olympic Games came back empty handed. I am not sure whether they had the notion that they were going to an intercontinental picnic! They, in all probability, were under the impression that all other participants from countries across the world also suffered from the same fantasy – of picnicking at Rio at the expense of the national exchequer. When the real show began, our fellow Bangladeshis came to their senses. Oh God! It’s not a picnic at all!
But it was too late by then. They found everyone else far ahead of them, in archery, in sprint, in pistol shooting and in golf, and those darn medals – gold, silver and bronze – were hanging from the necks of others, cruelly reminding our boys and girls that they should not have been there in the first place. The whole country was taken for a ride. We as a nation, being overwhelmingly emotional, believed that our boys and girls were no less than Bolt or Phelps or Tiger Woods! We were dreaming with our eyes open!
What went wrong? Nothing went wrong. Everything was right, as the way it always happens while selecting competitors for international events. Selectors look at the records on paper and take decisions sitting inside aircooled rooms without ever caring to put the competitors through bone-crushing training sessions and testing their mental strength, their attitude and aptitude levels. If we watch their performance at Rio it will become quite obvious that our timid, unimpressive and unimposing athletes did not do their homework before boarding the plane. They possibly had the idea it would be a competition of the dwarfs, like them, and they would beat them easy and snatch the gold medals. It was far from the truth. What happened in real life is a heart-breaking tale of incompetence and inexcusable failure – of Olympian proportions.
Remember what Siddikur Rahman said on return from Rio? He said he had no idea about the size of the golf courses and the kind of obstacles he would face there! Good Lord! Old chap, you went to the Olympics without doing your homework? Is it difficult to know about these from the internet? You go to the Olympics not only as an individual player but as a representative of your country!
The less said about the performance of others the better. They have failed individually, but collectively disgraced the country. One has to recall the amount of money the Bangladesh Olympics Authority spends to prepare athletes for the four-yearly extravaganza. The million dollar question now is – did we get our money’s worth?
For our athletes and officials, may be Rio Olympic is over. But not for all. In many of the medal-winning countries, officials, besides celebrating, have already started to scrutinize why they could not do even better! They will go through the videos again and again to understand what went wrong and where. Possibly the Chinese team will have to face the toughest of all the officials at home. While in the past they usually remained second on the medal table after USA, this year they were beaten by Great Britain. Some of the poor performing participants might end up working in coal mines in remote mountains! Indian Olympic authorities will also have to face the music for the lackluster performance of the big team that went to Rio. One silver and one bronze are not worth the money they spent for the Olympics.
We have to take international events like the Olympics more seriously. Before sending athletes there we have to ensure that they are fit enough to sustain and win in the mighty clash of the giants. They must not lose before even putting up a tough fight. And they must fight for Gold. This government is sports friendly so the Bangladesh Olympics Authority should submit the plan for the event coming up in 2020 in Tokyo. They will get full support from the government no doubt but they will have to deliver this time.