REUTERS - Syque Caesar hopes to come, see and conquer his rivals at the London Olympics, but even if he finishes outside the medals the U.S.-born gymnast is proud to be blazing a trail for Bangladesh at the Games.
The 21-year old gymnast from the University of Michigan learned in April that he had been selected to compete in London after receiving an email from the Bangladesh Olympic Association.
“My university team mates, coaches, and friends in the United States were absolutely excited and proud of me when they heard that I was going to go to the Olympics,” Caesar told Reuters in a recent interview.
“Like 90 percent of all gymnasts, it has always been my biggest dream to go to the Olympics, and I’m very excited to finally have the opportunity to make the dream a reality.”
Born and raised in the United States, Caesar has never lived in Bangladesh but has close family ties to the South Asian country. Caesar’s mother Rezina and father Quazi grew up in Dhaka and moved to the United States in the 1980s.
Quazi was the first baby born by caesarean section at Dhaka Medical College and changed his name from Chanchal to Caesar. A talented soccer player, he encouraged Syque to try different sports.
“I was just walking in the mall with my dad when we came across a flyer for gymnastics classes,” Caesar said. “He asked me if I wanted to try it, and I said sure. I was six-years-old at the time and I’ve never looked back.
“I was a very hyperactive child growing up and gymnastics was a great way to use all that energy in productive way.”
As his gymnastics career flourished, Caesar represented Bangladesh at the Central South Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in December 2011 in Dhaka and was an instant hit.
After finishing third in the all-around and floor exercise events, and second in vault, he finally struck gold in parallel bars - the first international gymnastics gold for Bangladesh.
Caesar will now represent Bangladesh at the Olympics thanks to a Tripartite Commission Invitation place, and will become the country’s first gymnast at a Games. Previously Bangladesh had representatives in athletics, swimming and shooting.
“I study the sport basically everyday and I try to stay up to date on the absolute latest gymnastics information that is released every week,” he said.
“I’m going to compete in the all-around: floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars, and horizontal bar.
“My goal is to hit all six of my routines to the best of my abilities. If I am able to do that, I will be satisfied with my performance regardless of where I place.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford