Hitting the Bulls-Eye

Marriage before permissible age, rejection of joining sports events and family hardship were apparently the destiny of Ety Khatun. But that was not to happen for someone who would only in year emerge as gold medal winner for her country. Alvia Zaman Shrity writes about teenage archer Ety who dared to dream.

Taking a shot at anything is risky and dicult, especially when the world is against you. Ety Khatun took the challenge to live her dreams rather than being bogged down by social and family expectations. Photo: Kazi Mukul.

It is the story of someone who, only at the age of 14, became the first female athlete from the country to win three gold medals in a single edition of the South Asian Games. Ety Khatun, a girl from Chuadanga, made history, but her journey was not so easy.

Only at an age of 12, Ety Khatun had to escape from a forced marriage. Hailing from a small Chuadanga village, Ety faced many other adversities. However, since her childhood, she showed enthusiasm for sports. She was also selected in local handball and football teams.

When she was promoted to sixth grade, her father Ebadat Ali was unwilling to allow her to study anymore as he could not bear the cost of her education any more and instead wanted to marry her off. Ety then moved to her Aunt’s house and continued to strive for reaching her goal of becoming an archer.

Ety was one of the girls who joined the event called archery talent hunt in Chuadanga in 2016. She was one of the 10 who was selected from a total of 40 participants. Five of them were sent to Dhaka for higher training and she was one of them. Her family was still hesitant since she was so young and never went anywhere alone. In the meantime, under the guidance of Sohel Akram, Ety turned into a determined young girl to succeed.

Archer Ety Khatun aiming to take control of her own destiny, rather than leaving it to fate. Photo: Kazi Mukul.

For her 2019 was a golden year as she found the occasion to display her ability to the fullest when she represented Bangladesh at the South Asian Games, only a week after having sat for her Junior School Certificate examinations. A resilient Ety received constant support from her coaches – Md Mizan and Md Hassan – as she showed her gratitude to them.

Her courage, hard work and competence paid off. The Ety exhibition in archery led to Bangladesh to win three gold medals at the South Asian Games in three respective archery events in 2019.

Ety has also qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which has been cancelled for the coronavirus outbreak. Now at the age of 16, Ety Khatun is set to join the Bangladesh Police Academy. It is hoped that she would show her sporting spirit as a professional.

Defying age and social barriers Ety offered herself as a standard-bearer of an enthusiastic sportswoman. She has already been an inspiration for many, a role model for the Bangladeshi juveniles and girls. Her success story is also known to sports enthusiasts in the South Asia region.

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