If the best Archers in the world can do it, why can’t I? All of us are born with the same ability.
The Archer was waiting his turn at the National Championships being held in Tongi. It was easy to set him apart from the crowd. His gestures and the way he interacted with people stood out. He exuded an aura of confidence and finesse. From being someone anyone seldom took notice of, Ruman Shana became a national phenomenon and a darling of the media overnight through his exploits in Archery.
Still a young man of only 24, Shana knew things were not easy for him as the sport he chose to pursue had little glory in Bangladesh. A nation obsessed with football and cricket had very little interest in Archery.
After passing through a personal obstacle course, Shana acknowledges the hard work put in by his predecessors and the administrators to establish the unknown sport of Archery in the country.
"A lot of effort has been put into Archery. The success that we are getting now was achieved in exchange for a great deal of sacrifice by many people. Our teachers and administrators worked hard. When we started, we had nothing. Our trainers have taken very good care of us," he added.
Another aspect of Archery that Shana likes is the fact that it is an "individual sport" - all the success and failure depends on a single individual.
"I used to play with slings when I was young. Back in 2008 when I was in the ninth grade one of our teachers, Hasan sir, told me about a new sport. I went to see it at the stadium and it quickly drew me in," he said.
"As young kids, we used to play with bows and arrows made of bamboo and jute twines. I am also inclined to learn new things. So I decided to take up the sport," he said.
Shana says that in team sports, if one or two members fail, the team will fail. But in an individual sport, everything depends on the one playing it. The player can achieve success by putting in a hundred percent effort. "I knew that I wanted to play an individual sport from the very beginning," he added.
However, not all Archers have it in them to reach as far as Shana has.
How did a young man of his age become so good as an Archer?
"The reason for my success is my stubbornness. I used to follow the local Archers very closely. Once I became better than them, I started following international Archers. There were a lot of coaches in the local circuit then but most of them did not want to work with me. But I remained headstrong and pushed them to support me. I wanted to play well so they would come to me on their own to work with me," said Shana.
Even as a child, Shana was strong-willed.
"I was a very stubborn child. I used to think this was a negative trait but later I was able to put this to good use. I always thought if the best Archers in the world can do it, why can't I? All of us are born with the same ability," the Archer explained.
Only being stubborn, however, does not get you very far. It was evident from Shana's training ethics and meticulousness that hard work was the key to his success.
"Without hard work, only luck cannot push you forward. I worked hard. Besides, the blessing and support of my parents and encouragement from my teammates helped me achieve success."
The head coach of the national team, Martin Frederick, also talked about his most accomplished disciple's hard work.
"It is no secret. His hard work and motivation has driven him the farthest. Ruman has a lot of talent. Nobody needs to push him. He sets his own goals and works towards those. I merely do some final adjustments, maybe tighten up some screws here and there," the humble Frederick said.
Shana's dedication, hard work, and perseverance have brought him to the edge of achieving a special something every sportsman yearns for - an Olympic medal the country has been longing for the last 49 years.
Enthusiasts and experts of the game reckon Shana's bow and arrow are Bangladesh's best hope for the medal the country has been craving for so long.
Shana has been preparing for the event for about a year now. He knows that the weight of expectation on him is going to be heavy.
"The Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world. I need to be at my best to bring glory for Bangladesh. And I hope to achieve that," he said.
In a country like Bangladesh where sporting obsession is often fleeting, can Archery continue to be a successful sport?
"Success is coming on a regular and Archery is on the rise. I hope this will continue. We, the current players, used to idolise local Archers like Imdadul Haq Milon, Sheikh Shajib and Mohammad Ziaul Haque. It is great to see that many young Archers are trying to follow me. Someone will take the mantle from me and Archery will continue like this."
"In the recent National Championship, Sakib (Sakib Molla) defeated me - which is a positive sign and it proves that they are ready to take the sport further. The void will be filled. And I hope to see better Archers than me emerging from Bangladesh soon," Shana said, almost certain of Archery's future.