Summer Olympics has just ended in Tokyo. But like every time Bangladesh could not qualify even in the final heat (Forget a gold medal or a place in the podium) - but why?

With a country of over 160 million people – why not a single person from us ever got anything in the Olympics? When much economically impoverished Botswana from African republic and war-torn Syria even got medals in Tokyo Olympics 2021.

Are we genetically weaker and other nations are better than us in sports and athletic ability?

As an athlete, let me explain this by calling a spade a spade.

Before I answer – let me explain you ‘What makes an Olympic Level Athlete’

A good athlete is not born - only coutless hours of right training turns a person into an athlete. Among athletes - an Olympian is of highest standard. A person who can qualify for the final heat of any discipline of the Olympics final has extra ordinary physical and mental capacity.

This extra ordinary feat does not come to anyone from sky – after years of being nurtured in a supporting eco-system, only the best and most talented one turns out to be an Olympian.

We at Bangladesh lacks that eco-system. This is why not only us but also our neighboring south asian countries also fail big time in global stage athletics. With nearly one fifth of the world population, mighty India has to stay content with one gold

So why we lack the eco-system to build olympic level athletes?

  1. Our Culture: After many years of colonial rule and foreign oppression, our farmer forefathers realized that education is the key to achieve a better life – but this learning also came with a cost. Enormous stress are given on children nationwide to spend time on study based on memorizing stuffs and lack of time on sports/physical activities. A child who spends much time in playing sports are termed as spoiled or ‘bokhate’ in local terms. The dream of most kids to become a sportsperson is destroyed in family.
  2. Lack of women in sports: In our agrarian culture with the history of early marriage – girls who cross class five are seen to be adult enmasse and are not encouraged to participate in sports/ athletics/ physical fitness in public. Eventually this deprivation impacts their growth and fitness level. Moreover, they never can understand the physical and mental benefit comes from sports/athletics. As a result, as mothers, they never emphasize on developing the sporting ability of their children – only burden them on educational performance and to be good to the society (not to be seen as a spoiled kid)
  3. And of-course corruption: Being the 31st largest economy in the world, we are at the verge of being a middle income nation, and our government allocates substantial budget for athletics. But at root level sports is limited to defence organization as status symbol and federations controlled by political leaders. They only attract people who’s ultimate attraction is to get either a defence job or some money to spend livelihood. Hence, vast majority of the society shuns athletics as a poor way of living.

So what is the problem?

Remember why Olympics has been originated? - To promote friednship among nations. As an athlete, I have got more friends globally due to athletics than any other area of my life. Athletes are the positive ambassadors of a nation at the world stage. Just think - what do you know about Brazil or Argentina apart from their soccer team or about Jamaica apart from their sprinters? 

However, as a researcher and a a self-made competitive athlete, I sense a positive change. Bangladesh will benefit from the globalization of sports training. I have been training under my US coach through online and got international podium. The privilged class is gradually changing their mindset about sports and athletics. We have super communities which are enabling women and children to get exposure to sports and fitness in public. Time to privatize sports and athletics and let it get its best shape naturally.

Waiting for an Olympic generation from Bangladesh :)

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