Thinley Namgay  

In her first attempt, Sapuna Subba made history, winning bronze medals in badminton, SH6 singles and mixed doubles, at the 2021 Asian Youth Para Games (AYPG) in Bahrain, yesterday.

The 20-year-old Class XII student of Gesarling Central School in Dagana has practised for the competition since June. She was classified in the standing or short stature category.

Sapuna Subba defeated Hawwa Eshal Riyaz of the Maldives in two straight sets, 21-9 and 22-20 in the Women’s Singles in SH6 category. Sapuna Subba also beat Shormi Mozumder of Bangladesh in the same category 21-13 and 21-4.

However, she lost to both Nithya Sre Sumathy Sivan of India and Yu Yen-Wu of Chinese Taipei in two straight sets.

Five players from five countries competed in the SH 6 women’s singles category.

In the mixed doubles, team Bhutan and Japan defeated team Bangladesh with 21-10 and 21-14. Sapuna’s Japanese teammate was Tomoya Uenot.

However, Sapuna Subba and Tomoya Uenot lost to Aditya Vadiraj Kulkarni and Nithya Sre Sumathy Sivan of India. They also lost to Natthapong Meechai of Thailand and Yu Yen-Wu of Chinese Taipei.

An official from the Bhutan Paralympic Committee (BPC) said that Sapuna Subba did her best. “We hope that she will learn from the experience and work hard for the future.”

Meanwhile, AYPG technical team allowed Mani Kumar Rai to compete in the Men’s Long Jump, even though he was not classified. He did not win.

The long jump participant, a low vision Class V student of Khaling Muenselling Institute, could not pass the classification stage on December 1, as his impairment was ineligible in para-sports, meaning his vision was better than other participants.

The athletes were selected during a talent identification programme organised by the BPC during the 2021 Paralympic Festival in Trashigang for athletics and Bhutan Badminton Federation’s coaching camp in Dagana.

The AYPG is a multi-sport event held every four years for young athletes with an impairment. The competition began on December 2.

Around 800 participants between 12-20 years of age, from 30 Asian countries, participated in the AYPG in nine sporting events: Athletics, Badminton, Boccia, Goalball, Para-Taekwondo, Powerlifting, Swimming, Table Tennis, and Wheelchair Basketball.

This year’s AYPG theme was “Together Rising Stronger”.

Iran dominated this year’s competition with 97 medals, followed by Thailand and Japan with 55 and 35 medals, respectively.

Team Bhutan, comprising two athletes and three officials, will reach India today and arrive in the country on December 13.