A promising footballer almost a decade ago, Kinga Thinley, had to hang his boots following an injury.

The lean and lanky striker shifted to bodybuilding.

Kinga Thinley joined the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) academy in 2007 and started playing for Choden FC in his initial years. Later he joined Yeedzin FC, one of the top clubs during those days.

The nimble-footed forward was known for his agility and power. He played with Yeedzin FC for three years earning the reputation as one of the key players in the team. He remained one of the highest scorers of the club before he resigned in 2012.

Known as ‘Mongarpa’ among the football fraternity, he was also a part of the under-23 and senior national team. Although he has no international goals to his name, his former teammates said that his performance and growth over the years remain exemplary.

Besides football, Kinga Thinley was a proficient sprinter. He took part in 60ms dash in Vietnam in 2009.

However, his promising career in football and athletics was cut short when he tore the ligaments in one of the legs during a game. “I’m a sportsman and I found a way to get back into what I love,” he said. “I always wanted to try bodybuilding and this was my chance.”

The college gym further kindled his interest to pursue bodybuilding. However, given the limited equipment and knowledge he could not completely focus on the sport.

After completing college, he started working out at his home-gym in Mongar. “Although I used to work out regularly, my equipment was all raw and I did not have anyone to guide me,” he said. “Besides being expensive, bodybuilding is mostly Thimphu-centric today. And without proper guiding, the results are not as great as we expect it to be.”

Kinga Thinley left for Thimphu two months prior to the competitions where he trained with professionals using state of the art equipment.

He won a gold medal in the fashion and fitness category at the Muscle Factory’s Fashion Fitness and Freestyle (F3) competition in Thimphu last month. “I had been seriously working on my body for the past three years and this was the perfect platform to prove to myself.”

Bodybuilding, he said, is an expensive sport and requires a high level of hard work and dedication. “Like all sports, discipline is a must if you want to achieve good results,” he said. “I’m thankful to my family for their support and the organisers for encouraging the youth by providing such platforms.”

Kinga Thinley plans to open a gym in the east and encourage aspiring bodybuilders to take up the sport in future. “Bodybuilding is not necessarily building huge muscles. It is a lifelong sport that will help keep your fit.”

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang