Games commence on February 5 at Shilong and Guwahati

SAG: The national game, archery is one of the disciplines where the country could bag medals from the upcoming 12th South Asian Games (SAG) next month.

The Bhutanese archers have participated in two SAG tournaments in the past years. The archers bagged two silver medals and a bronze in the two copetitions.

Bhutan Archery Federation’s General Secretary, Tsewang Rinchen, said that the performance of the archers have improved compared with the past years. “The scores we secure now, had it been the same in the past, we would have won gold in any competitions,” he said. “However, because of the investment countries like India and Bangladesh have put into the sport, it is difficult to match up to their level.”

Archers from India and Bangladesh are seen as the biggest contenders at the tournament this year. Tsewang Rinchen said India who is ranked in the top five of the world rankings would be a difficult team to beat. However, he said the team and the federation are hopeful of performing better than the last tournament.

Twelve archers, eight in recurve bow and four in compound bow will represent the country during the 12-day tournament.

The coordinator of the Bhutanese team, Nim Dorji, said apart from archery, boxing and taekwondo are the other two categories where Bhutan could return with medals. “We have won two silver and three bronze medals from the last South Asian games,” he said. “Looking at the preparations of teams this year, we are expecting to double our medal tally.”

Bhutan Taekwondo Federation (BTF) has won the maximum number of medals from the tournament. From the four South Asian Games the federation took part in, BTF have bagged two gold, 10 silver and 11 bronze medals.

BTF’s technical director, Dema Wangchuk, said that the team have been practicing for the past five months and are ready for the tournament. “It will be a tough competition but we’re hopeful to do better than what we did last time,” he said.

Boxing won a silver and a bronze medal each at the last SAG. The team comprising of seven boxers are currently practicing at Phuentsholing.

Representatives from the Indian Olympic Associations (IOA) yesterday presented an overview of the 12-day competition. Eight countries from the region will take part in the 12th South Asian Games at Guwahati and Shilong. About 3,500 athletes and teams are expected at the games.

85 athletes from 10 different federations will represent the country at the games that will commence from February 5.

Younten Tshedup