India dominates the first South Asian Cross-country Championship

Bhutan’s men team secured third position in the first South Asian Cross-country Championship of the region that was held in Thimphu yesterday.

Bhutanese athletes rubbed shoulders with the best in the region.

Competitors included top Asian runners, South Asian middle distance winners, and professional athletes from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

Gawa Zangpo (in the lead) finished the race in 35 minutes 38 seconds

Gawa Zangpo (in the lead) finished the race in 35 minutes 38 seconds

The championship saw Gawa Zangpo, runner up of the Laya run, reach the finish line two minutes after India’s Pradeep Singh Chaudhary who bagged gold medal. The latter completed the 10kms race in 33 minutes 50 seconds.

Sangay Wangchuk, Sangay, Dechen Ugyen, and Nima Yoezer closely followed Gawa Zangpo, which helped the team win an advantage in the tie against Nepal to win the third place.

Considered one of the best Bhutanese middle-long distance runners, Nima Yoezer, who had been suffering from a hamstring injury for more than two months completed the race at the 15th position.

Nima Yoezer said that the team could have achieved better results.

“We hoped for the third position,” he said. “Athletics event requires consistent training. We were not able to undergo regular training.”

The result sent the men from Nepal into state of shock. They appeared confident to win the third place. Sri Lanka stood second and India came first in the men’s category.

Royal Thimphu Golf course saw more than 40 long distance runners from South Asia run down the gentle slopes and up the earth mounds to reach the finish line.

The championship flagged off with all eyes on the teams from India that achieved bronze at the 14th Asian cross-country championship held last week.

The team from India that was selected from 600 runners at national cross-country championship held before Asian championship dominated the championship.

Pradeep Singh from India (in the lead) completed the race in 33 minutes 50 seconds to win the championship

Pradeep Singh from India (in the lead) completed the race in 33 minutes 50 seconds to win the championship

India bagged team’s first position and also the individual men’s first position. The same team took part in Asian championship but returned empty-handed. However, India proved strong at the event and took home the maximum medals.

The competition saw the Asian cross-country championship bronze medalist, Jhadav Sanjivani, win gold yesterday.

“The climatic conditions made the run tough. However, I am excited to win the first international gold medal today,” Jhadav Sanjivani said.

Nepal’s Bishwarupa won the silver medal, and Sri Lanka’s Rathnayaka Nilani bagged the bronze.

The open-air field did not have barriers of muds, river crossing and woodlands.

The women’s team of Sri Lanka nudged India’s team off, who won bronze medals at the Asian championship, to second place.

Sri Lanka’s coach Nobert Perera said that they were confident to win the championship.

“The result was expected,” he said.

The award function of the event saw Nilani Ratnayake of Sri Lanka win a bronze medal in individual women’ category and team’s gold medal. Despite winning national cross-country championship back home, she was not allowed for any awards last month. However, she bagged two medals, the highest from her country, during the championship.

Her teammates, also the national winners, won the fourth and seventh positions respectively.

The second place went to India and the third to Nepal in women’s category.

The eldest athletes participating were from the Maldives and the youngest from Bhutanese women team.

Of the six participating nations, four women teams from Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, and Bhutan took part yesterday.

Despite the team having the least experience, Chimi Dema reached the finish line four minutes after Jhadav Sanjivani, who won the race. She was the first to complete the race among the Bhutanese women runners.

Chimi Dema said that it was a good experience running along tough runners consisting of Asian champions and Olympians. “

We gave our best. I hope to compete with the same athletes in the future and come back stronger,” she said. “We expected to win a bronze.”



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