Here we look back at some of the notable achievements in the sporting arena (barring cricket and football) for Bangladesh in 2019:
19 golds in the 13th South Asian Games
Bangladesh ended the year with its best-ever performance at the regional South Asian Games. The Bangladeshi athletes secured 19 gold medals in the 2019 edition of the Games held in Kathmandu in Nepal in December.
The country earlier earned its highest tally of 18 gold medals in the SA Games in 2010 when it was held in Dhaka. Its highest haul of gold medals won in a single edition held outside Bangladesh was 7, in the Madras Games in 1995.
Bangladesh still finished 5th out of 7 participating countries in the games. A total of 462 Bangladeshi athletes competing in the event bagged 142 medals, comprising 19 gold, 33 silver and 90 bronze medals across 25 disciplines.
Among those, Bangladesh bagged all the 10 gold medals in archery - admittedly benefitting from the absence of Indian archers - three gold in karate, two in weightlifting and one each in men’s cricket, women’s cricket, fencing and Taekwondo.
Bangladeshi celebrated archer Mohammad Ruman Shana, Eti Khatun and Md Sohel Rana secured three gold medals each -- two in team events and one in singles - while Suma Biswas secured two gold medals -- one in team events and one in singles.
Shana, Eti and Sohel were the best performers of Bangladesh in the regional games after swimmer Mosharraf Hossain Khan, who secured a record five gold medals for Bangladesh in a single edition -- three in individual events and two in relay--in the 2nd SAF Games (presently SA Games) in Dhaka in 1985.
Bangladesh never won gold previously in the SA Games archery. Their previous best performance in the SA Games archery was the three silver medals in Guwahati in 2016.
Besides archery, Bangladesh women’s cricket team also wrote their name into history securing their maiden gold medal in the SA Games beating Sri Lanka. Bangladesh men’s cricket team also clinched the gold beating Sri Lanka.
Dipu Chakma earned the first gold medal for Bangladesh in Taekwondo of the 13th SA Games while famed lifters Mabia Akhter Simanta and Jiarul Islam bagged one gold medal each in weightlifting and Bangladesh’s athletes also clinched three gold medals in Kumite events of Karate.
Fencer Fatema Mujib also made a national record securing first-ever gold medal in Fencing.
Shana’s light shone brightly
Recurve Archer Mohammed Ruman Shana will certainly be counted as one of the most celebrated athletes of 2019 in Bangladesh.
The 24-year-old archer from Khulna secured a spot for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 from the World Archery Championship in the Netherlands on June. He thus became only the second Bangladeshi athlete to qualify for the Olympics on merit after golfer Siddikur Rahman, who took part in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Shana also booked another record claiming first bronze medal in the World Archery meet beating celebrated Dutch archer Van Den Berg Sjef in the quarterfinal after beating two-time world champion Kim Woojin of South Korea in elimination round.
The feat boosted his morale with confidence and the Khulna boy wrote a new history in the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal on December. Shana secured a total of three gold medals -- two in teams events and one in singles.
Shana also clinched gold in Asia Cup-World Ranking Archery Tournament (Stage-3) in the Philippines in September. It was his 3rd individual international gold medal after claiming gold medals in the 1st Asian Archery Grand Pix’2014 in Thailand and in the International Archery Tournament’2017 in Kyrgyzstan.
The dawn of women’s hockey
Bangladesh Women’s hockey team tasted a first international victory beating upper-ranked Sri Lanka 2-0 in the 2nd match of the six-nation Women’s Juniors (U-21) AHF Cup Hockey Qualifiers held in Singapore in September.
It was the first time the Bangladesh women’s team participated in an international meet.
Earlier, the women’s Hockey team under the banner of Dhaka Eleven played a 3-match series against Kolkata Warriors at the Maulana Bhashani National Stadium here in November last year. This was the first hockey series for Bangladesh women against any foreign team.
Hosts Bangladeshi side won the series beating touring Kolkata Warriors by 2-1. Dhaka Eleven defeated Kolkata Warriors by 2-0 goals in the 1st match, 3-0 goals in the 2nd match while conceded a 0-1 goal defeat in the 3rd and last match.
Bronze in Junior Kabaddi World Cup
Bangladesh Junior Kabaddi team clinched their first-ever bronze in the first Junior Kabaddi World Cup in Iran November. The Bangladeshi boys conceded a 20-52 points defeat to hosts Iran in the second semifinal of the meet.
On their way to semis, Bangladesh beat Thailand by 62-37 points in the quarterfinal and emerged champions in three-team Group C to reach the quarterfinals of the junior world meet beating Afghanistan by 84-11 points and Chinese Taipei by 48-36 points.