Asif Hossain Khan
Commonwealth Gold Medallist

A couple of years earlier he may have been dreaming of glory in the field of athletics, but in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, Asif Hossain Khan permanently wrote his names in the annals of Bangladesh shooting.

At the tender age of fifteen, Asif was taking aim for his last shot in the men's 10-metre air-rifle final, with most onlookers already impressed by this fresh-faced boy currently occupying fifth position in the leaderboard.

As he later told The Daily Star, at that moment he was thinking of a third-place finish at best. “Coming to take the final shot, I was lying in fifth place and perhaps if I could make a good shot, I would probably end up fourth. The bronze was also a possibility but slightly unlikely.”

The bronze could wait, because he hit a remarkable 9.9 with his last shot, leapfrogging four places to claim Bangladesh's first gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.

That achievement shot him to fame in 2002, but it was by no means a flash in the pan. He won back-to-back titles at the inter-club shooting competition in 1999 and 2000, and it was a bronze medal finish in the 2002 Bangladesh Games that brought the teenager into national focus. He won the gold in the SAF Games in Pakistan in 2004, before creating another piece of history when he became the first Bangladeshi to participate in a shooting event in the Olympics. Although he finished 35th, he considers participation in the revered event as one of his proudest moments. In the 2005 Asian Games, he recorded his highest personal score till then to win the bronze.

But things soon took a dark turn for the talented shooter. On October 2, 2006, after an altercation between police and shooting federation staff, police broke into the federation premises and assaulted several shooters including Asif. The police did not relent even after Asif identified himself as an elite sportsman, instead ramping up the brutality. Along with four others, Asif was taken to the police station where the beating continued, resulting in him suffering injuries to his arm muscles and leg, so serious that doctors wondered if he would be able to practice again.

Asif thereafter slowly got back on the horse, overcoming emotional and physical trauma. He has not been as consistent as before the shameful incident, but the champion in him did rally to win two gold medals on the opening day of the 4th South Asian Shooting Championship in Islamabad in 2008. He first won the individual gold in the 10-metre air-rifle event scoring 694.3 points bettering his previous highest, and then won the team event under the same category with shooters Saiful Islam and Imam Hossain.

by Sakeb Tahsin Subhan

Zahid Hasan Emily
National Footballer

Coming from a football-rich background, national striker Zahid Hasan Emily strongly believes his connection with football is divine. His father and four brothers have all been footballers and boasts of having sported the jerseys of renowned clubs like Brothers Union, Arambagh KS and Shantinagar. Emily's greatest inspiration, his father, was a district level football player. The very first footsteps could be traced back to his hometown at Udaykathi, Pirojpur, where Emily's fondness for football evolved with every passing year.

“My father is my biggest inspiration for getting into football and it is for him that I have gone far in the sport today. Football runs in my blood and it was inevitable that I would take the sport up”, says Emily.

It was in 1999 when he joined a BKSP trial and got selected for a seven-day camp being held there. The flame was lit right away, starting from his selection in BKSP to his BKSP U-16 captaincy and the flight to the national squad.

Even though his heart lies back in Pirojpur, the national striker places BKSP as his second home and credits the institution for his success.

“If I have to give credit for what I am today, I'll give it all to BKSP. It has made me and built me to be the footballer that I am now,” said a thankful Emily.

He has been a leading light in Pirojpur from his early years.
“The place where we were born didn't have many footballers, so it was my brothers and I who kept the sport alive in the area we lived in, as we were the ones participating in all the tournaments and events held,” he states.

The fact that Emily has not forgotten to give something back to his roots is illustrated by what he does now that he has settled himself into a secure position in the Bangladesh football scene.

“I refer and send young players who show great interest in football from my hometown to come and try for BKSP. My father lives there, and he helps me handle and pick out potential footballers,” informed Emily.

Lending a hand to the talented and budding youth hidden in corners of Bangladesh is what the country needs for a promising football foundation to stand up strong.

by Saveem Shama

Anwar Uddin
Professional British Footballer

In 1999, British-born Bangladeshi Anwar Uddin had the world at his feet. He was the captain of West Ham's FA Youth Cup's winning squad, leading a team with the likes of Joe Cole and Michael Carrick. He regularly trained alongside Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard, was privy to the quirks of Paulo di Canio and was nurtured by Harry Redknapp. His no-nonsense style of defending caused many to earmark him as a future English international.

But then it all went wrong. Triple groin operations left his career in tatters, his fitness in shambles and his dreams shattered. He did not even manage a Premiership debut, and repeated comeback attempts were stalled.

Fate finally did smile on him and the centre-half rejuvenated his career at League 2 side Dagenham and Redbridge, in the process becoming the first person of Bangladeshi descent ever to captain a professional British team.

In the longer run though, the soft-spoken Anwar plans to return to his roots and build an academy in Bangladesh. He says that the feedback from his visit has motivated him a lot. "I received positive responses from the government, media, federation and the people. Everyone is really passionate. I want to come back to Bangladesh and do something and what I would bring from England would be both a financial package as well as knowledge. That's what we need,” he adds.

When asked if the pinnacle of Anwar Uddin's sporting career was, as many believe, the 9-0 hammering of Coventry in '99, he replies, "Perhaps. With West Ham, I went to Manchester, Chelsea, and sat on the bench during European games. But winning the championship with Dagenham gave me greater pride. I came back after people told me I'd never play again. It was a great challenge."

By Shahnoor Rabbani