Unbowed Ruman keeps his eyes on the prize

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Ruman Sana, the second Bangladeshi athlete to qualify directly for the Olympics, has been involved in archery for 14 years and has brought the nation many laurels. The 27-year-old archer spoke to Daily Star’s Anisur Rahman about his career and the future of archery in Bangladesh. The excerpts from the interview are as follows:

The Daily Star (DS): After the Archery World Cup, how was the preparation for the Islamic Solidarity Games next month?

Ruman Sana (RS): Bangladeshi archers have recently participated in five international tournaments. However, we participated in these tournaments to prepare for the Asian Games and the Islamic Solidarity Games although the Asian Games have been postponed. We are also confident of making the finals in a few events.

DS: What are the reasons for your inconsistency since your best performance in the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers in 2019?

RS: Since I suffered shoulder injuries before the Tokyo Olympics, I can only bear 70% of the load. Currently, the bow I use is three pounds lighter than the previous one.

Second, I was used to the extra practice after the regular session and shot close to 350 arrows. I have benefited from this extra practice in international competitions, but now if I take on this load I get pain in my shoulder so I only perform regular sessions to keep my career alive.

DS: Are your current scores good enough to win gold in the big stages?

RS: Of course, it is possible to win medals in the big stages because it is difficult to predict who will win a medal. The man, who won silver at the Tokyo Olympics, scored one more point than me in the qualifying round. At the Archery World Cup (Stage 3) in Paris — I scored 670 points, which is a world-class score — and finished 21st in qualifying. I think if I can maintain such a score, then it is possible to win a medal. However, luck is an important factor.

DS: As you enter the 15th year of your career, how do you see your decision to venture into archery?

RS: I think it was the right decision even though it wasn’t my decision to begin with; Almighty Allah brought me to archery. When my school teacher asked to join an archery camp in 2008, I skipped joining the camp the first day because I didn’t know the meaning of archery. On the second day I joined the camp and saw that it was bow and arrow that I used to play.

DS: How long do you want to extend your career?

RS: I want to play in the 2028 Olympics although it all depends on the situation. One day I will have to leave the national team but I want to represent Bangladesh Ansar in the national circuit as long as possible.

DS: In archery in Bangladesh, your name comes first. How do you react to it?

RS: Sometimes I can’t believe it and I often think, is it really me? I have been really shocked many times to receive honors in different programs.

DS: You have ever been worried about your post-archery career. What is your current state?

RS: Now I don’t have any tension with my post-archery career, but other archers still have apprehensions. I am now doing a job as a Bangladeshi Ansar soldier but not everyone is like me.

DS: Why were other promising archers not able to perform as expected at international level?

RS: I think they will perform and we have to be patient. In addition, the authorities concerned must take care of promising archers a little more.

Without financial support and job security, it is difficult for them to concentrate on archery. I can give you an example where Hakim Ahmed Rubel, who together with Diya Siddique won the first Asian Archery Championship medal, could have done better in the Archery World Cup recently concluded in Paris because he was a bit disappointed after failing to get a job in the Bangladesh police exam.

DS: Since the appointment of German coach Martin Fredrick in 2018, how has archery in Bangladesh changed?

RS: The changes you see now in archery in Bangladesh were made by Fredrick because there was nothing like it before Fredrick’s appointment. It brought vast changes in domestic competitions and introduced more tournaments than before. He was also in close contact with the service teams and provided the annual calendar to all teams with the aim of making each competition competitive. His five-year contract will end this year and I don’t know if he will continue with Bangladesh.

DS: What is the future of archery in Bangladesh?

RS: He has a bright future. And especially given the progression of archery in Bangladesh, I think there is no going back. However, ongoing activities must be maintained.

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