Thinley Namgay 

The nation rejoiced the decision of the Bhutan Paralympic Committee (BPC) to make its second appearance in the highly-anticipated Asian Para Games (APG) later this year from October 22 to 28 in Hangzhou, China.    

Since its inception in 2017, BPC has been sending athletes to the para games.

The 2023 APG will witness four para-athletes from Bhutan—shooter Kinley Dem, archer Pema Rigsel, shot putter Chimi Dema, and badminton contestant Sapuna Subba. 

Kinley Dem and Pema Rigsel participated in the 2018 APG in Indonesia. During the World Championship in Korea in May, Kinley Dem acquired her minimum qualifying score (MQS) of 609 points, which exceeded the minimum requirement of 590 points.   

Chimi Dema

Sapuna Subba

Kinley Dem

Kinley Dem said, “I am excited for APG. The training was on track despite disruption by the Covid-19 pandemic. I aim to be in the top eight, but we never know what will happen during the game.” 

In shooting category, only the best eight players will be selected for the final round. 

With a six-year experience, Pema Rigsel is expected to perform better at the APG in the recurve category. Over the last few years, he made five international appearances in Thailand, Indonesia, the UAE, and Japan.  His best score so far is 609 points.    

“I will try my best,” the 36-year-old said. Kinley and Pema have been preparing for the last four years. 

Chimi Dema and Sapuna Subba are currently studying sports and health science at Royal Thimphu College. They started preparing for the games in January.  

At the fifth Indian Open International Para-Athletics Championship in May, the 30-year-old Chimi from Mongar set her new record in shot put by throwing 5.71 metres and also won the silver medal.  She aspires to perform better than this at the APG. 

Chimi acknowledged the high level of competition in the APG. However, she is confident to try her best considering her five years of experience with four international appearances.  

Sapuna said that participants should not give up regardless of the results. She is optimistic about the results of the games.  “I will perform well.”

In the last five years as a para-badminton player, Sapuna bagged two bronze medals in her debut at the 2021 Asian Youth Para Games in Bahrain.   

BPC’s coach, Penjor Gyeltshen said, “Our athletes will do better. But let’s not forget that we have great sporting nations in our region. I always hope for the best.” 

He said that participation in such a major competition is essential, as it would provide better exposure and experience for athletes to feature in other world championships in the future.   

More than 4,000 para-athletes are expected to compete in 22 sports in the fourth edition games.

The games were supposed to be held last year but had to be deferred owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.