#Tokyo10: Ruman Shana making Olympic history for Bangladesh

#Tokyo10: Ruman Shana.

#Tokyo10 profiles 10 archers poised to make an impact at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

  • Name: Ruman Shana, recurve man from Bangladesh.
  • Age: 26
  • World ranking: 23
  • Olympic experience: None, he’s a first-timer.

Ruman Shana’s appearance in Tokyo is the result of an incredible breakthrough at the 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch, where he won individual bronze to book his ticket to these upcoming Olympic Games. 

In the Cinderella story of the tournament, Shana is eager to continue his personal rise to glory while simultaneously putting Bangladesh on the archery map.

Can the nation’s first archer to qualify for the Olympic Games also deliver its first medal in Japan?

Ruman Shana celebrates at the 2019 World Championships in Den Bosch.

Reasons for hope 

Few paid Shana much attention in 2019, when he arrived in the Netherlands for the Hyundai World Archery Championships as a member of Bangladesh’s unheralded – but quietly improving – archery team.

Perhaps they should have. Shana had been quietly amassing solid top-10 results and medals at the Asian Championships for years, taking recurve men’s gold on the Asia Cup back in 2014. He was always talented, always dangerous.

In 2018, he became a resident archer at the World Archery Excellence Centre in the Olympic Capital of Lausanne. On his return to Bangladesh, he started working with the renowned international coach Martin Frederick, who was amazed by Shana’s incredible appetite for hard work.

Bangladesh had been gifted invitation spots to the Olympics in 2012 and 2016.

Given the steady competitive improvement, a third was likely on the cards for Tokyo – but did anyone really expect Shana or his teammates to win one outright, already?

The stage was set for the worlds in 2019.

In the individual competition in the Netherlands, Shana astonished the archery world by knocking out some of the biggest names in the sport: Kim Woojin, Sjef van den Berg and – in his last match of the tournament – Mauro Nespoli, to take the individual bronze medal. It was the performance of the tournament, and it propelled him up to 13th in the recurve men’s world rankings.

Shana then proved it was no fluke by taking the individual gold medal at the Asia Cup in the Philippines that September. Of course, the pandemic derailed Shana’s momentum – but he isn’t alone in that regard.

Back in action in 2021, he reached another final at the second stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Lausanne, taking a silver medal in the mixed team event with Diya Siddique.

That universality spot which was originally looking likely to go in Shana’s direction was then issued to Diya soon after the conclusion of Olympic qualifying in Paris. It’s significant not just for the young woman, not just for Bangladesh – but for Shana, too, because it means that the nation will be eligible to compete in the mixed team event at the Olympics as well.

And all that opportunity is rooted in Shana. One of the humblest, genuine and thoughtful men on the shooting line – but an exceptionally talented athlete with genuine Olympic medal potential.

Ruman Shana and Diya Siddique celebrate at stage two of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Lausanne.

Reasons for concern 

Shana qualified with the pack after shooting 657 points at stage three of the international circuit in Paris – somewhat down on the mid-670s he was scoring in 2019. He’ll need more than that on the board to avoid a difficult draw at the upcoming Olympics.

Shana is also known as one of the nicest guys in the sport; friendly, humble and dedicated to hard work. No one wants to change any of that, but he may need to find just a little steel in his performance to go deep in Tokyo.

Path to victory

Shana’s shot is smooth, concise and strong. It’ll need to be absolutely on point in Tokyo. And we’ll need to see the sort of all-gold ends he deployed against Nespoli in the arena in Den Bosch, as each one finished with a rock-solid 10 – and Shana won that last spot on the podium. If he can remain at that kind of level, he’s a match for literally anybody.

He’ll be looking for a top-20 qualification, but the head-to-heads is where he will make his mark. Shana has proved throughout his career that he is dangerous in any individual field. You could say that his opponents might lose by underestimating him.

Did you know? 

Shana’s run in Den Bosch made him only the second Bangladeshi athlete to qualify for any Olympic Games in their own right – ever. He will be one of just four athletes from the country making the trip to Tokyo, two of them archers. There will be a significant spotlight on his – and Diya’s – efforts at the Games.

Header artwork by Eduardo Batán Molina.