Siddikur Rahman

Bangladeshi confident of making cut for Rio

Siddikur Rahman is hoping his Singapore Open performance will help him qualify for the Olympics.
Siddikur Rahman is hoping his Singapore Open performance will help him qualify for the Olympics. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Golf is set to make a return to the Olympic Gamesin Rio de Janeiro this year, more than a century since the last time it was included in 1904. It is a big thing to golfers around the world, but to a few individuals the event in Brazil is additionally special. Nicholas Tan finds out why.

He is the first Bangladeshi golfer to win in the Asian Tour, emerging victorious in the 2010 Brunei Open. Now Siddikur Rahman is on track to be the first from his country to qualify for the Olympics on merit.

In the seven Summer Olympic Games that Bangladesh has competed in, all its competitors were there only because of the wildcard process. A wildcard is a tournament berth awarded to an individual or team that has not qualified through normal play. 

The South Asian country also has the unwanted tag as the most populous country in the world, with an estimated 160 million, never to have won an Olympic medal.

On this unfortunate fact, the 31-year-old golfer blamed it on the lack of funding for sports, saying: "Bangladesh is not, I'm sorry to say, sufficient economically. Our government are supporting sports within their ability, but it's not world-class support.

"It's like give and take; if you give me (support) I can give back (results). In order to (become) champions (in tournaments), we need more facilities and government support for our sports. Maybe after 10 years of that, there will be visible effects."

The double Asian Tour winner is currently ranked 58th in the International Golf Federation Olympic rankings for men. The top 60 players as of July 11 will seal their spots for the 2016 Games.

With more than five months to go, Siddikur is confident of earning his ticket to Rio.

"If I can play as well as the second half of last year, and finish in the top 10 two or three times, I think it's sufficient to qualify for the Olympics," he said.

Bangladesh's top golfer is also hopeful that his exploits on the fairways can inspire more of his younger compatriots to pick up the sport.

He said: "They are really inspired to watch me play, since I've been playing all over the world. They are trying hard to get into this (level of golf).

"If I can play at the Olympics, that will be good for the country, sport, good for the juniors. I'll be an example to them as someone to look up to."

Having represented Bangladesh at the 2013 ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf, Siddikur believes playing at the Olympics would be the pinnacle of his career.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 29, 2016, with the headline 'Bangladeshi confident of making cut for Rio'. Print Edition | Subscribe