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.

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!

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.