Bangladesh prepares to take on Korean titans in Olympic qualification match

Md Ruman Shana, Md Tamimul Islam and Mohammad Hakim Ahmed Rubel are representing Bangladesh in its recurve men’s team at the 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.

Aged only 24, 19 and 17, the young trio of scored a combined 1997 points to qualify 16th as a team – and make their first elimination cut at the worlds.

“Our key is having good teamwork. We have a very good relationship,” said Shana. “When you are on your own, sometimes things are more difficult. Having a team helps you overcome your own problems, nerves and win.”

Shana, the older and most experienced archer on the team, sits in the captain position; Islam and Rubel, making their debuts at the worlds, follow his lead.

They all train together at the Bangladesh National Federation training centre in Dhaka, where they spend most of their time preparing for competitions. When not shooting, they are permitted to visit their families at home.

“I’m the leader behind Martin Frederick, our coach. I’m the team captain because I’m number one archer in Bangladesh,” he said.

“Martin’s way of coaching helps us. There’s a big difference between now and how it used to be. He’s very active, disciplined and ever since he arrived in Bangladesh, we have grown a lot.”

(German-born Frederick signed a five-year contract as Bangladesh’s head coach in March 2018.)

The Bangladeshi team met Spain in the first round of team elimination. Ruman, Tamimul and Hakim opened the match with a perfect set score of 60 – and held off a late Spanish charge to win, 5-3.

Along with their strong communication during shooting – there was something else on this young group’s side.

“When we shot against Spain, the sun came out and we were happy,” explained Hakim. “Back home, the weather is around 36 to 38 degrees, so in the mornings here we are always cold and shaking, but as soon as the sun is out our mood changes and we feel very happy.”

Their next opponent for the second round of eliminations is the number one seed, Korea. It’s a somewhat scary line-up of Lee Woo Seok, Kim Woojin and Lee Seungyun. The winner of the match will move into the quarterfinals and secure a team quota place for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Bangladesh and Korea have met before.

Only two months ago, at the second stage of the 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Shanghai, Korea beat Bangladesh to the bronze medal, 6-2.

“Our goal is to qualify as a team for the Olympics. We have Korea next, but our mind is set to beat them,” added Ruman, looking at his teammates.

The all-important match takes place on Wednesday afternoon in ’s-Hertogenbosch. Whether or not this young team does the seemingly impossible and beats Korea, this is very much the start – not the end – of Bangladesh’s journey to international success.

“I hope and I think that this is just the beginning of what we can do in the future. We are a good team; it was our own personal best score as a team, and we will continue trying as much as we can,” said Hakim.

The 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships take place on 10-16 June in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.