Two years after she appeared on the track and set a goal to win a gold medal, Rinzin Dema, 15, from a remote village in Zobel, Pemagatshel, won the 3000m mid distance run during the national school athletics meet yesterday in Thimphu.

The student of Gonpasingma Lower Secondary school is the first and the youngest gold medalist from schools in Pemagatshel dzongkhag.

Rinzin Dema said it took some practice and a lot of determination and self-confidence to be a national champion. “I could hardly express how I am feeling now,” she said. “But I know my family back home, friends and everyone from Pemagatshel would be happy for me.”

In 2013, she was disqualified from participating in the national level competition because of her age. She, however, participated in the dzongkhag level competition in the same year.

The school coach, Yeshi Pema, said that was when she showcased her talent at the dzongkhag level by winning the 1500m and 3000m mid distance run.

Rinzin Dema said since her first participation at the national level athletic meet in 2014, she set the goal to win a gold medal. “My family back home are supportive but my mother is worried about me. She thinks I am too young to contest in national level.”

She said she was into sports since she was in class four. “I don’t remember how I got into it at an early age but it is sports that keep me healthy, happy and strong.”

She said she is thankful to her teachers at the school and the coach saw her potential and trained her. “I want to practise more so that I could win more medals in future. I want to contest in international level.”

Rinzin Dema said she wants to become a sports teacher so that she could impart the knowledge she gained on using tracks to the students in remote places.

Yeshi Pema said that he is happy and proud that his student from a remote school could win at national level.

Meanwhile, Chimi Wangmo from Lhuntse Higher Secondary School broke the previous record in women’s high jump setting the new record of 1.38m. Rinzin Dorji from Wangbama Central broke the previous record for men’s 3000m mid distance run with 10:26:10 minutes.