Twenty-four athletes and seven coaches from four national federations are representing Bhutan at the 18th Asian Games that began in Jakarta, Indonesia, since August 18.
Save for golf, the three disciplines – archery, boxing and taekwondo were selected for the games based on their performances during the 12th South Asian Games (SAG) in 2016.
The national game, archery, is one of the disciplines where Bhutan is expected to bag a medal. Bhutanese archers have participated in the Asian Games since 1986.
National coach with Bhutan Archery Federation, Tashi Tshering, said that the performance of the Bhutanese archers has improved considerably over the years.
He is leading the Bhutanese recurve team at the games. “The players have been performing very well during the practice so far. While it is difficult to say if we would win medals, I’ve high hopes from my men’s recurve team.”
A total of eight archers (five recurve and three compound) underwent intensive training for three months in Thimphu including a weeklong acclimatisation preparation in Bangkok before the games.
“While we are prepared for any challenges, we are also aware that the best archers in the world are in the same competition,” Tashi Tshering said.
The coach with the compound team, Karma Tshering, is optimistic with his archers’ performance during the practice sessions. “We have managed to maintain the consistency of our scores which is usually difficult to achieve,” he said. “If we could continue this consistency, we could even win medals this time.”
The Bhutanese archery team bagged five medals including a silver at the SAG.
The chef de mission of the Bhutanese contingent, Nim Dorji, said that given the practice time provided to the players for the game, the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) is expecting some medals this time.
“Although the competition would be much tougher than the South Asian Games this time, we hope our players perform well and bring home some medals,” he said.
In order to encourage athletes and coaches’ to excel in sports at the international competitions, the BOC, through the Sports Excellence Award (SEA), offers cash prices to medal winners and their coaches.
A gold medal recipient at the Asian Games would be awarded Nu 3 million (M) through the SEA. Silver and bronze medalists would be given Nu 2M and Nu 1M respectively along with the 10 percent of the cash prize to the respective coaches.
“With all the support that BOC and the government have provided to the athletes, we expect to do well at the Asian Games this time,” said Nim Dorji.
Meanwhile, the Asian Games returned to Indonesia for the second time after 56 years when the Asiad torch was lit on August 18. The opening ceremony for the games was held at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium, the same stadium where the 1962 Asian games was held.
More than 17,000 athletes and officials from 45 countries are competing at the 16-day event. Asian Games is the second largest multi-sport event after the Olympics.
Bhutanese taekwondo athletes, Tenzin Dorji will take on Sagar Guvaju from Nepal and Sonam Yangtsho will fight Sonesavanh Sirimanotham of Laos today
Younten Tshedup | Jakarta