Some of the world’s elite golfers may have dismissed the importance of competing at the Olympic Games, but Bangladeshi golfer Siddikur Rahman certainly isn’t one of them.
Dubbed the ‘Bangladeshi Tiger Woods’ in his homeland, the self-taught world number 310 has never qualified for one of the sport’s major championships. As a result, Olympic qualification would stand out as the pinnacle of the 31-year-old’s career to date.
“Wow, yes, It would be very exciting for me if I can get in,” he told Reuters during a rain delay at last week’s Singapore Open, where he missed the cut.
“Obviously, I have a target for that, I just need to play better to get in. It would be a very good impact for my country to get into it.”
The top 15 players on the world rankings on July 11 will secure automatic qualification for the August 5-21 Games, but only four players from any one country are allowed entry.
The remainder of the 60-man field will also be determined by the world rankings, with a maximum of two players allowed for each country that doesn’t have two or more players in the top 15 already.
Following last week’s Singapore Open, Siddikur is 58th on the list, meaning he is just inside the qualification spots.
With a population of approximately 160 million, Bangladesh has been described as the largest country that hasn’t won an Olympic medal, having made their debut on the global stage at the 1988 Seoul Games after being invited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
With sport far too expensive for the majority of the population of Bangladesh and not a high priority for those that can afford it, nobody from the country has ever qualified for the Olympics – their participants at each of the games following 1988 competed as wildcards.
Siddikur, who first held an authentic set of clubs in his hands at the age of 15 having played with a homemade set of irons previously, hopes to become the nation’s first.
“Maybe I could be the first. I hope I will get in, let’s see, there is a long way to go. If I can play my own game, I think it won’t be a problem,” he continued.
“Philippines, Sri Lanka, more countries have a chance to get in.
“I would say it’s a great thing because golf, all over the world we play golf, so it should be in the Olympics. It is a really good decision to put it in,” he said, before pausing to imagine the impact of winning gold.
“I don’t know what will happen. The Olympics is something all over the world. An Olympic gold medal is just ‘wow’, I couldn’t imagine what would happen.
“Honestly, if I can get into the Olympics that is the one achievement if I can play good that is another.”