Aiming for gold

Getting ready … finally

Our population base is small. And we lack the resources. That’s why it’s almost impossible to bring home medals in any sport from any recognized international competition.

But what if we had about 1500 sportsmen, spread across the country, all using the latest equipment, and all putting in long training hours to compete in one national tournament? If that were to happen, we would then surely achieve the best international standards at that sport.

In fact, that did happen, very recently. A record-breaking 260 teams, consisting of 1,560 archers, took part in the Yangphel Open Archery Tournament. The tournament, which was conducted in 10 different venues over 7 whole weeks, saw Jigme Norbu of Blue Poppy Tours hit an incredible 46 kareys in his 45 league rounds.

Yangphel’s archery tournament is big. But it is just one, among many tournaments and matches held continuously throughout the country.

Now, surely, that sort of enthusiasm should produce sportsmen capable of competing with the best archers any where in the world. The answer, unfortunately, is a “no”. We may produce a disproportionately large number of archers, and the may use the world’s best equipment, but we can’t compete outside the country for one simple reason: the way we play archery is different from the way the rest of the world plays it.

But that’s about to change.

The Bhutan Archery Federation, in collaboration with Yangphel Archery, is conducting a seminar on international style compound bow archery. With over 80 of our best archers undergoing the intensive training program, interest in international style archery using compound bows has been sudden and overwhelming.

Interest in the new archery format is so big that Michael Peart, the archery coach, who is an accomplished archer himself, tweeted: “Probably my best seminar ever, 100 archers, 10 days & they want to learn World Archery style compound shooting!”

The seminar will conclude with Bhutan’s first ever international style compound bow archery tournament during which our finest archers will be ranked, in accordance with international standards.

In general, we don’t have a viable population base, and we don’t have the resources, so it will be difficult to produce world-class athletes.

But in compound bow archery, international style, we do have the numbers, and they already carry the best equipment. Plus they’re being trained. And, most importantly, they are enthusiastic.

At this rate, we will produce world-class archers. And they will bring home medals from major international tournaments; they will bring glory to our national sport.

Big blue

Obviously big

My oversized jaws continues to be the brunt of many jokes. Replying to my last post ‘nagilabgey’ answered that “OL’s jaws” are the second largest structure in Thimphu!

My jaws are big, but they’re not that big. They certainly are not the second biggest structure in Thimphu. That distinction belongs to the BBS radio tower in Sangaygang. The BBS tower, measuring about 41 meters, was built in the 1980s to transmit shortwave radio waves. Since 1999, the tower has been used to broadcast TV and FM signals in addition to shortwave radio.

Actually, I had another structure in mind when I asked which was the second largest structure in Thimphu. I’d been thinking about the huge scaffolding in the Changlimithang stadium. Okay, I found out that it’s shorter than the BBS Sangaygang tower. Still, at about 35 meters, it’s impressive. And it’s ugly.

The scaffolding was erected, reportedly at great expense, to carry the gigantic thongdrel of Guru Rimpoche during the Royal Wedding last year. The thongdrel, the world’s largest, is awe inspiring. And viewing it is a singular blessing. But without the thongdrel, the huge scaffolding structure looks odd, and it looks ugly. More importantly, it occupies valuable space at the Changlimithang stadium.

For the sake of sports, if not for beauty, the scaffolding should be dismantled as soon as possible.

 

Tour of the dragon

This year’s Tour of the Dragon was a grand success. At 2:00 AM on Saturday, 45 riders representing 15 teams took off from the town square in Chamkhar and raced towards Thimphu. 28 of the riders managed to complete the grueling one-day, 268 km mountain bike race from Bumthang to Thimphu.

Last year’s fool – the rider who fell off his bike in Trongsa, but stubbornly rode on to complete the race – fared better this time. He didn’t fall. And he clocked a decent 14 hours 16 minutes to complete the race.

But this year’s Tour had better highlights. Here are a few of them:

  • Eight riders broke last year’s record of 13 hours 39 minutes. Sonam Tshering owns the new record at an astonishing 11 hours 31 minutes. (That, incidentally, is how long some motorists take to make the journey from Bumthang to Thimphu!)
  • Yeshi Dema, the only female rider to take part in the Tour, became the first lady to complete the race. She took 17 hours 11 minutes.
  • Pema Khandu, aged 18, was this year’s youngest rider. He rode the 111 km to Chendebji before calling it a day.
  • Colonel Tawpo, aged 59 years, was this year’s oldest rider. He completed the epic journey in what must have been a torturous 18 hours 25 minutes. He rode into Thimphu at 8:25 PM long after the prize distribution ceremony had ended.
  • 857 volunteers (comprising of teachers, students, civil servants and businessmen and women) lined the route to point out potholes and unexpected bumps, direct traffic, distribute water and food, and to generally cheer the riders on.
  • HRH Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck did not compete in the race. He rode, but did not compete. Instead – and in spite of his competitive nature – he chose to support and encourage the riders. He checked on every rider who fell off his bike. And he accompanied most of the riders who struggled through the difficult stages of the race. In the process, he probably rode more than the race’s 268 kilometers.

Thanks to the efforts of the volunteers, RSTA officials, traffic police, Dzongkhag authorities and, above all, the Bhutan Olympic Committee, this year’s Tour of the Dragon was a grand success.  Well done.

Deserving parents

What good parenting does

Dago Pema Retty deserves to be congratulated. Dago, who is a Class VII student at Pelkhil School, recently participated in the 9th International Clubs Open Taekwondo Championship in Vietnam. He bought home a bronze medal from that tournament.

Dago’s parents, Aum Pem Dem and Gyambo Sithey, also deserve to be congratulated. They spotted their son’s interest in taekwondo, and went out of their way to cultivate that interest. They hired a private coach for their son. And even though Dago was the only Bhutanese participant in the Vietnam tournament, they sent him there, and they bore all the expenses.

Our children are naturally talented. And we, parents, must nurture their talent. But too few of us do so. That’s why most of our children end up with mediocre standards at best – unable to fulfill their potentials.

If we want our children to become artists and musicians; if we want them to excel in games and sports; if we want them to do well in science and mathematics; if we want them to become wholesome citizens with well rounded values and a sense of civic responsibility; if we want our children to be able to compete and succeed internationally … we, parents, must take parenting more seriously.

Yes, our schools play an important role in developing our children. And so does civil society, like, in Dago’s case, the taekwondo federation. But we can’t escape the fact that, if we want our children to excel, we, parents, must ultimately take the biggest responsibility.

Aum Pem Dem and Gyambo Sithey are doing their part. Are you?

Photo credit: Bhutan Today

3-on-3

Good shot!

Ghandians, Dudly Bros, Usuals, Jachung, Jaguars, Local Z, Pvt Schools and Blue Formers – these are jazzy names of the 3-on-3 basketball teams that will play their quarterfinal matches today.

The matches, which will begin at 5:00 PM, will be played on the rather attractive make-shift half-court that has been constructed bang in the middle of the clock tower square. The semifinals will be held tomorrow. And the finals on Wednesday.

The Bhutan Basketball Federation, which organized the tournament, is keeping a close eye on all the games – they’ll be recruiting a national team from the participants.

Two related notes:

One: have you noticed that the clock tower square is being put to very good use? On most weekends there’s something taking place there. And sometimes – like the basketball tournament that’s going on now, and the recent Tarayana Fair – the square is occupied throughout the week. Very good.

Two: have you noticed that there’s been a sudden and significant improvement in sports after HRH Prince Jigyel took over the Bhutan Olympic Committee? Very, very good!

3-on-3

Good shot!

Ghandians, Dudly Bros, Usuals, Jachung, Jaguars, Local Z, Pvt Schools and Blue Formers – these are jazzy names of the 3-on-3 basketball teams that will play their quarterfinal matches today.

The matches, which will begin at 5:00 PM, will be played on the rather attractive make-shift half-court that has been constructed bang in the middle of the clock tower square. The semifinals will be held tomorrow. And the finals on Wednesday.

The Bhutan Basketball Federation, which organized the tournament, is keeping a close eye on all the games – they’ll be recruiting a national team from the participants.

Two related notes:

One: have you noticed that the clock tower square is being put to very good use? On most weekends there’s something taking place there. And sometimes – like the basketball tournament that’s going on now, and the recent Tarayana Fair – the square is occupied throughout the week. Very good.

Two: have you noticed that there’s been a sudden and significant improvement in sports after HRH Prince Jigyel took over the Bhutan Olympic Committee? Very, very good!

Cross country

Yesterday, in Kabisa, during Bhutan’s first cross country mountain bike race, in which Sonam Tshering, who completed the 22 km course in 1hr 18 min, came first:

[Continue Reading…]

Devika Darjee

A winner

Almost 200 of you took part in the poll to decide who would be our sportsperson of the year. Thank you for voting. And thank you for your many comments. I closed the poll at midnight on the last day of January.

The race was close. Ugyen Yoeser (cycling) and Devika Darjee (cricket) ran neck and neck in our informal competition. Eventually Devika won, but by barely a whisker – she secured 55 votes against Ugyen’s 53.

Devika Darjee was the only lady among my nominees for the sportsperson of 2010. She beat nine men to the top spot. Congratulations.

Devika wins Nu 25,000. She should contact me by email to claim her prize.

The prize money comes from the Nu 200,000 I collected for completing the Tour of the Dragon, a bicycle race from Bumthang to Thimphu. All of it is being spent on social work, especially to promote sports.

 Photo credit: Kuensel

Sportsperson of the year

Mr-Bhutan-tshering-dorji

Bhutan's strength

Who’s your favourite sportsperson?

No, I’m not talking about international sports personalities. I’m talking about your favourite Bhutanese sportsman or woman.

Let’s find out. Please take the poll that asks: who, in your opinion, is the Sportsperson of 2010?

My nominations are not exhaustive. Nor are they accurate. They are some of our athletes I’ve read about or heard about from the media during the past year. They are people who I think have excelled in their sport. Or who have shown potential. And who are role models for our children.

If I’ve missed any one – and I’m sure I have – please feature them in your comments. Or send me an email. It’s important to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of our sportsmen and sportswomen.

Here are my nominations for Sportsperson of 2010:

  1. Archery (traditional equipment). Rinzin Drukpa hit 22 karays and 8 dayas in the Druk Wangyal Archery Tournament to become the best archer of the tournament.
  2. Archery (imported equipment). Sonam Jamtsho hit 54 karays in the Silver Jubilee Archery Tournament and 40 karays in the National Coronation Archery Tournament. His consistency earned him the title of best archer in both the tournaments.
  3. Bodybuilding. Tshering Dorji (pictured above) won the National Bodybuilding Championship to be crowned Mr. Bhutan, and then went on to win a bronze medal in the South Asian bodybuilding competition.
  4. Boxing. RBA’s Phub Sigyel captured the imagination of the whole kingdom by making it to the quarterfinals in last Asian Games.
  5. Cricket. Devika Darjee was declared woman of the match two times as the bowler took our U-19 women’s team all the way to the ACC championship finals in Singapore.
  6. Cycling. Ugyen Yoeser won the first Tour of the Dragon cycling 268 km from Bumthang to Thimphu in 12hrs 33mins.
  7. Football. Kinga Thinley, a student from Ugyen Academy, scored a hat trick and was declared man of the match as Yeedzin FC were crowned national A-division league champions.
  8. Golf. Bahadur Tamang and Budha Singh Tamang, brothers studying at Zilukha LSS and caddying at Thimphu’s golf club, won a tournament each (and a car each) in 2010. Together they have won three cars in the past 18 months.
  9. Marathon. Pasang Pasang of RBA clocked 2hrs 44mins to easily win the Coronation Marathon held in Wangduephodrang.
  10. Tennis. Tandin Wangchuk took three titles at the 2010 National Tennis Open Championship: the men’s singles; under 18 boy’s singles; and the men’s championship trophy.

UPDATE: Devika Darjee (cricket) was also declared the best bowler of the tournament. Phub Sigyel (boxing) had won a silver in the 11th South Asian Games held in Dhaka.