Shooter of glory

Adnan Akib writes how Antara Islam has become one of the finest female shooters of Bangladesh despite many hurdles

ShooterA t 16, Antara Islam represented Bangladesh in the world sporting tournaments as a target shooter and bagged five medals in different categories. It has been nine years since then and Antara has become one of the finest female shooters in the sport in the country with at least 20 medals in her bag.
A gold medalist in 25-metre pistol in the National Shooting Competition in 2011, Islam is a follower of 20-year-old Greek shooter Anna Korakaki, who is representing Greece in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
An English graduate from University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, Islam enrolled in Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishtan (BKSP) in 2001. After basic selection, BKSP tested her skills and expertise and put her into the gymnastics category. Because of her height above the average gymnasts, Islam dropped out of the sport but that is when she turned to shooting.
In the years that followed, her passion for the sport took her to the Quarter Asian Shooting Championship in Doha and Indo-Bangla Shooting Competition in Kolkata among other competitions.
‘It’s a moment of pride when our national anthem plays in front of us and we represent our country. I may not be there always but I am sure every single person will feel equally proud when they represent their country. Not everyone can achieve this moment in life. This is something that money cannot buy,’ says Islam.
Shooting is more of a mental game, she tells New Age Youth. It has many scientific explanations which people don’t understand always. It has been even more difficult for her as a female shooter to find space in the domain she has nurtured her skills.
Social acceptance for any sport or activity out of the box comes with a lot of resistance. Then there are the social menaces such as sexual harassment in almost every quarter of the society.
‘There are certain problems in this field. We cannot expect everything to be smooth. But this is also true that if the federation resolves some of the issues it will be easier for the shooters to perform,’ says Islam.
Shooting is an expensive sport, which is one of the main reasons why Bangladesh does not have so many shooters. A shooting practice of 100 rounds costs as much as Tk 10,000, which some shooters spend in a day, says Islam.
To pursue a career in sport, she left her home at a very young age. She missed the warmth of being with family for most part of her life and says, ‘I realised that the mental support from family is important,’ Antara reminisces her sacrifices.
Her transition from a sporting school to a private university was a change in atmosphere. ‘I missed many of my classes for shooting practices, which affected my overall score of graduation,’ says the 23-year-old.
Islam has borne ligament and backbone injuries at different times, which required her month-long breaks from the sport. But that could not keep her away from becoming one of the best female shooters in the country. She has returned to the sport every time.

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