Athletics: Japanese former olympic athlete, Dai Tamesue, who is currently in the country training local athletes, believes Bhutan may be able to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in the mid and long distance track and field events.

“Everyone can run,” said Tamesue, who competes mainly in the 400m hurdles, but added that the Bhutanese physique is best suited for track and field events between 800-5,000m.

He is currently training Bhutanese runners on 100m sprints at the track and field centre but only because such short distance runs are the foundation of the sport.

Tamesue, who has participated in several competitions including three olympics, is in Bhutan at his own cost. In Japan, he is the president of the Athlete Society Foundation.

He explained that a desire to see more Asian countries participate in the upcoming olympics in Japan is a motivator. The similarity in culture and people to Japan is another factor, he said.

By age 10, Tamesue was determined to devote his life to competing in the olympics after watching the competition on TV. To get Bhutanese track and field athletes to the olympic level, Tamesue said that a grass roots movement in the schools is important.

He pointed out that physical education would allow teachers to identify talent. Those talented enough could then be trained and exposed to the sport so that they can decide if they want to continue and specialise in it, he explained.

On whether the income is good, Tamesue said that if talented enough to attract sponsors, life can be comfortable. He added that even after a career is over, many relationships would have been formed which can become business connections.

A Bhutan Olympic Committee official said that Tamesue’s main goal is to train Bhutanese athletes and take them to the next level. He also intends for at least one or two Bhutanese to qualify for a track and field event for the 2020 Olympics.

The official said that Dai Tamesue has invited BOC President HRH Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck and other officials to Japan to visit the foundation’s faculties next month. Tamesue has also invited three athletes to come and train in Japan. Exchange programmes are also being considered.

“There is a 30-50 percent chance,” said Dai Tamesue, on the likelihood of a Bhutanese track and field competitor at the 2020 olympics.

Gyalsten K Dorji