Some 300 students from across the country gathered at the national athletic track in Lungtenzampa on the opening of the 15th National School Athletics Meet in Thimphu yesterday.

The participants are selected from the records submitted by the dzongkhags or thromdes after competing at the dzongkhag school sports meets.

With 163 girls and 156 boys participating in this edition, the event has now received more girl participants for two consecutive years.

Thim throm has the maximum number of 32 participants followed by Samtse with 27 participants. The least, two students will represent Bumthang in the event that will be held for five days.

Organised annually as a part of school sports programme, the event is aimed to facilitate lifelong and healthy lifestyle, inculcate essential life skills and values, enrich teaching-learning process, foster mass participation, keep youth and children meaningfully engaged, recognise potential athletes and encourage sports excellence.

Bhutan Amateur Athletic Federation selects potential students as national athletes to represent the country at the regional and international competitions from the meet.

Until he was enrolled in Dorokha Central School this year, Pema Wangchuk, 17, from Denchukha in Samtse only played football and volleyball. He took up track events at the central school.

Pema Wangchuk defeated mid-long distance runners from seven schools at the dzongkhag sports meet to qualify for the national sports meet.

“I hope that the event will be worth participating,” he said.

Another participant, Kinley Gem and her relay team from Samtse expects to reach the final in 4×400 meters girls’ relay. The relay team from Samtse High Secondary School is participating for the first time. She said the team has prepared over a week for the event.

The event will also commemorate 50 years of diplomatic relations between Bhutan and India this year.

Meanwhile, at the 14th national sports meet, the participants broke five national records last year. The event saw about 400 students.

Tashi Phuntsho