The defending champions, Buddhist Arts were losing the deciding set, and were on the verge of being knocked out of the Druk Wangyel National Traditional Archery tournament at Changlimithang archery range yesterday.
The opponents, TSD and STS had hit a karey (target hit) and two dayangs, booking four points enough to finish the set and secure a berth at the final on January 11.
The four time champions needed a hero.
For the past two days, despite losing a set to the opponents, Buddhist Arts were leading and at that moment needed only a point to win the deciding match. TSD and STS fought back tooth and nail. The organisers extended the match with two more rounds on the second day but Buddhist Arts couldn’t finish it.
The next day, TSD and STS returned stronger and went up from 17 to 21 in the first two rounds excluding the numerous hits that Buddhists Arts cancelled. Neither of the teams could score in the next three rounds as both teams successfully prevented the other team from scoring.
It came to the sixth round and TSD and STS had enough points, a karey and two dayangs, to finish the set with only three archers remaining. Buddhist Arts players appeared dejected and desperate.
They ran, yelled, and whistled summoning the spirits to intervene and hoping for a miracle. Their supporters at stands wore anxious looks and encouraged the archers to prove their worth. The scene was a battle-like. It was now or never.
Then Dorji Tshering from Sakteng rose to the occasion. His performance in the past two days were not convincing. But now, both his bamboo arrows landed on the target squashing all hopes for team TSD and STS from Thimphu. His teammates ran riot around the targets spraying dust and singing their lungs out.
The match ended, Buddhist Arts entered the final from Pool A.
Dorji Tshering was extremely happy. “In the past two days, other friends have performed well. We became hopeless as the opponent hit the target continuously in the deciding set. But I aimed with full determination and it worked at the last moment,” he said.
Besides their talent in archery, spectators enjoyed their sense of humour and camaraderie. They said safety of spectators is an issue as many move out of the gallery and stand close to target. “The lone Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association (BIGSA) lady staff controlling the crowd was not enough,” a spectator said.
Meanwhile, team Yango Automobile from Thimphu lost to Radhi gewog, Trashigang on January 6. Radhi dominated the game winning both the sets 25-14 and 25-2 and cruised easily into the final.
Radhi didn’t take even a day to thrash the opponent.
Buddhist Arts’s captain Kezang Dorji said, “While selecting the players, we look at both talent and attitude so that all can work together as a team.”
“It is difficult to say who will win the final. Radhi payers are sharp shooters and some of them had been our teammates.”
The teams paid tournament an entry fee of Nu 7,500 each. The tournament was started in 2004 by the BIGSA.
Each team has 13 players, of which two remain as spare archers. The teams were divided into Pool A and Pool B and the winner had to finish two sets of 25 points.
BIGSA’s coordinator, Tshewang Namgyal said, “In 2016, we saw the highest number of participants with 40 teams and 39 teams this year.” The tournament is sponsored by the government.
Tshewang Namgyal said BIGSA also organise two other traditional archery tournaments.
“Team members breaking the rules, lack of budget, and timing are the major challenges in organising the tournament,” he said.
Buddhist Arts will play team Radhi gewog on January 11.