Joma Akter makes para archery national federation’s dream come true, one year after its creation

Joma Akter at the Fazza 2024 para archery world ranking event in Dubai.


Joma Akter always yearned for making a name for herself and Bangladesh since the beginning of her para sport journey.

It didn’t take much time for her to realise her long-cherished dream of qualifying for the Paralympic Games with a third-place finish at the final qualification tournament for Paris 2024 in Dubai in March.

It was historical and highly promising for the country – exactly one year after a new para archery federation was launched in Bangladesh – and Akter who began playing the sport only six months ago. 

The 20-year-old, certainly, was flabbergasted on the development.

“I’m so happy, I don’t have words to express my feeling, it’s one of the proudest moments for me,” said an ecstatic Akter after her efforts gave new hopes and dreams for the nation.

She also shared her nerve-wrecking experience playing in her only second international para archery tournament – she finished ninth at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games in October.

“When I was aiming, I had little difficulty due to the light,” she explained. “Moreover, I was very nervous to shoot alongside such experienced players. But I settled down gradually.”

“Next time, if I get a chance to play in a big stage – I can do better. It was a great learning experience today.” 

Akter won one of the two Olympic places on offer in the compound women’s open final quota event defeating Teresa Wallace from USA in the bronze final.

She comprised a squad of two men and two women in Dubai, after the team had just made its international debut with five competitors at the Asian Para Games a few months ago.

Joma Akter in semifinal at the final qualification tournament for Paris 2024 in Dubai.

“Getting the chance to play at the Asian Para Games as our first international event was a milestone,” said Joma, who was part of the women’s wheelchair basketball team in Bangladesh for two years before switching to para archery much like her teammate Rupali Akter, a recurver.

“It was very motivating to meet the big names in the sport and witness their game. It built my confidence and improved my temperament level.”

“It was a big learning experience for all of us – playing in such a big stage and meeting the stars,” added Rupali, seconding Joma’s emotion. “We are so thankful to our coaches and Bangladesh Para Archery Federation for giving us the opportunity.”

“The Hangzhou 2022 Games instilled the drive to do something in my career,” the 22-year-old said.

Joma also admitted of her inclination for archery since she was introduced to the sport following her spinal cord injury in 2018.

“I was involved with sports since my accident, but I was more comfortable playing archery considering my disability. Besides I felt it has better future.”

The 20-year-old lost in the second round in Hangzhou and won a bronze medal competing against able-bodied archers in a national ranking tournament in Bangladesh, before getting the Paralympic quota in Dubai.

Para archery started in Bangladesh only last year after the National Paralympic Committee became the 45th national organisation to be included in the Paralympic fold at International Paralympic Committee general assembly in Bahrain in September 2022.

And in a short span of time, the nation’s para archers have shown a lot of promise and determination to excel on the world stage, taking a leaf out of their able-body counterparts’ success in recent times that included Ruman Shana becoming the first archer from Bangladesh to qualify a quota place for the Olympic Games.

Joma Akter shooting for a Paralympic spot at the final qualification tournament in Dubai.

The Bangladesh Para Archery Federation’s founding president Kazi Rajib Uddin Ahmed Chapol, who is also general secretary of the Bangladesh Archery Federation, acknowledged the dedication and determination of his support team and the athletes for the amazing results they have delivered. 

He, however, has called for support for the development of the sport in the South Asian nation.

“[It] is a newly formed association, we have a good committee, and everyone is working hard in putting a structure in place,” he explained. “I can also see a lot of potential among our archers who are keen to not just participate in international events but learn and grow as a player.”

“Our journey has just begun, and to become better and grow in the sport, we need support from the government and the international federation.”

Currently, the national federation boasts 12 para archers, five of whom have proudly participated at the last year’s Asian Para Games, who reside and train at the Bangladesh Kreeda Sheekha Pratisthan, the national sports institute in Savar, about 28 kilometres north-west of the capital, Dhaka.

They not only train with the abled-bodies archers of Bangladesh, but also compete in various national level events, including the one held recently to promote archers on International Women’s Day.

“Archery is a famous sport in Bangladesh with infrastructure and training undergoing in the Army, Air Force and national sports institute,” explained para coach Nishit Das, an important figure in Bangladesh archery coaching structure. “Playing together with the abled body archers is a big boost for the para archers and good preparation for their skills and technique.”

Support for para archery in Bangladesh is coming from private organisations that sponsored the entire trip for the archers and support staff in Dubai, for example.

“We are very thankful to them for trusting our efforts,” he added, hoping that more support will come on board after this result. “Our aim was to qualify for the Paralympics and now we aim to put up a strong show in Paris.”

For the South Asian nation, the first target was achieved in Dubai, but the journey has just begun. 

“Our archers have a long way to go,” coach Das concluded.

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