Bhutan’s hope of getting into the medal tally is narrow at the 5th Asian Indoor Games held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan that will begin on September 17.

Bhutan is taking part in only one discipline –taekwondo. A total of 12 national taekwondo players will represent Bhutan in the event.

Around 6,000 athletes from 65 Asian countries will take part in 21 different indoor sports event.

The athletes went through three different levels of selection before getting selected. They were selected from the best players of the inter school tournaments, dzongkhag-level championship, and annual national championship that was held in December last year.

Only a few among the twelve have the experience of having participated in the international championship.

Tilak Bhadur Gurung is among the two players who are expected to perform better in the event. The 25-year-old took part in several taekwondo tournaments abroad – Asian Taekwondo Championship held in the Philippines and Second Mount Everest International Open Taekwondo Championship held in Nepal. He will compete in men’s U-74kg category.

He was one among three taekwondo players who participated in World Taekwondo Championships 2017 that was held in South Korea.

Jangchub Choden, Yeshi Wangmo, Lham Tshering, and Chimi Dolma participated in Taekwondo championship held in Nepal this year.

Tilak Bhadur Gurung said that the training facilities and pre-competition match makes difference in the sport. “We hardly take part in two pre competition in a year. Whereas the players outside get a minimum chance of one pre competition in a month,” he said.

Jangchub Choden said that she would try hard to win a medal. “I am thankful for the opportunity. The nation is counting on us as we are only the one to represent in the event. Winning a medal will be for the nation and it’s important,” she said.

Out of 10 BOC-affiliated federations that took part in the 12th South Asian Games (SAG) last year in India, Bhutan Taekwondo Federation bagged the maximum medals. Of the 16 medals, the federation won nine medals.

Bhutan Olympic Committee’s Program Officer, Kesang Phuntsho Tshering, said that the committee selected the federation to represent the country in the Asian indoor games as the federation has performed well in 12th SAG.

Taekwondo coach, Dorji Gyeltshen, said that the competition is tough with many new players taking part in the event. “The performance of the players has improved over the years. Though the players lack experience and the training are manual. We will try hard to perform better. Getting adapted to the change of weather and the first-time appearance in international tournament will be a challenge to most of them,” he said.

The national athletes had been preparing for the event for the last seven months.

Of the 18 taekwondo events, the national athletes will take part in 12 different events categorised according to the weight of the athletes.