Thinley Namgay

At Langjophakha archery range in Thimphu, archers from Bhutan Archery Federation (BAF) take no rest. They are serious about their regular practice under the guidance of head coach Park Young Sook from South Korea. 

Archers require silence to aim at the target, located at a distance of 70m. On the target, there are ten rings with points from 1 to 10. Archers aim for 10. It needs extreme precision. 

Thirty-one-year-old Karma is one of the archers. She is training for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in Japan, to be held from July 23 to August 8. She will be competing in the women’s recurve category. 

From Tsenkharla, Trashiyangtse, Karma booked a spot for the Olympics during the Asian continental qualification tournament held in Bangkok in 2019. She got the minimum qualifying score (MQS) of 627 points during the day-long national MQS competition organised by BAF on May 15, this year.

Karma said Olympics was a dream of every athlete. Not everyone gets an opportunity. “It’s an important competition for me and the country. As I am representing the country as a full-fledged archer, I must perform well.”  

She was into Olympics-style archery since 2009.

“I am confident as I am undergoing rigorous training even during weekends,” she said, adding that her best score in the local ground so far is 666 points.

Archers shoot six arrows for one round in the 70m archery range.  For one set, archers have to shoot for six rounds, and each arrow carries 10 points which accounts for 360 points in a set. For a game, they have to complete two sets which are out of 720 points. Each round is given four minutes. 

In 2012, Karma made her international debut at the London Olympics. She also took part in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and individual recurve archery event and the team-recurve at the 2013 and 2015 World Archery Championships held in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

Shooter Lenchu Kunzang and swimmer Sangay Tenzin got an opportunity to take part in Tokyo Olympics through wild card entry.

Lenchu Kunzang, 29, from Dop-Shari, Paro, has been into shooting since 2013 despite her regular duty as a Police. 

Today, she continues to practice at the Changlimithang sports complex.

She will be competing in a 10m range. Each shooter will shoot 60 bullets to acquire 654 points in 1 hour and 15 minutes. The highest point from a single shot is 10.9, and in 60 shots, the total comes to 654.

 Lenchu Kunzang is a seeded shooter. She obtained MQS from Qatar with 615.4 points in 2019. She took part in the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil and 2019 South Asian games in Nepal, besides several regional and national competitions.

Lenchu Kunzang said that she was expecting a better result this time. “Olympics are an important platform. I am excited to participate.”

All shooters will play for the qualification round at once, and eight players will be selected for the competition.

Shooting is fun, according to her, but requires dedication.

Sangay Tenzin, 17, from Gelephu, will represent the country in the swimming category, Bhutan’s first.

He is currently paractising with Kinley Lhendup in Phuket, Thailand, with support from the FIFA (International Swimming Federation). Swimmers from more than 12 countries train there.

Based on the FINA ranking, Sangay Tenzin got selected. He has 531 points. Kinley Lhendup got 401 points.  

In Tokyo Olympics, he will feature in a 100m distance swimming range. The official time is one minute. So far, Sangay Tenzin has been able to complete the race within 57.9 seconds.

Sangay Tenzin said he was prepared. “Besides regular training in Thailand, I competed in Singapore championship and world championship in South Korea in 2019. My swimming skills have improved after reaching Thailand.”

“I am excited. It will be a proud moment for the country,” he said.

He began swimming in 2009 when he was in Gelephu. His interest in swimming increased after reaching Ugyen Academy in Punakha.

“I used to actively participate in the swimming competition at Ugyen Academy,” he said.  His hard work paid off when he was selected by the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) as a swimmer in 2019.

BOC’s programme officer, Jamyang Namgyel, said the athletes would not go together to Japan. “Archery team will leave on July 7, followed by shooting and swimming on July 13 and 21 respectively.”

More than 11,000 athletes from the 206 National Olympic Committees are expected to compete in the Tokyo Olympics in 33 different sports. 

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk