Athletes undergo ‘Athletes and Nutrition’ seminar in Thimphu

Thinley Namgay

Skipping breakfast for glucose powder, biscuits and milk is the most common way of preparing for an athletic event whether at school or at national competitions.

That is how many Bhutanese athletes grew up. There was not much understanding on the importance of nutrition even when being a professional athlete.

Today, athletes who participated in the recently concluded 13th South Asian Games receives a stipend of Nu 7,500 a month from Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) for five months during their pre-match training period for the nutritional purpose.

This, however, according to professionals is not enough to prepare an athletes, nutritionally,  to compete at major events.

Understanding the importance of nutrition, more than 100 national athletes from different sports federations and associations attended a three-day seminar on Athletes and Nutrition organised by the Athletes Commission of Bhutan (ACB).

ACB’s Member Secretary, Sangay Tempa said that providing nutrition to athletes is challenging. “The fund received by the National Sports Federations and the Bhutan Olympic Committee from the government is limited. Most of the National Sport Federations receives an average annual budget of Nu3.7 million to meet all the expenses.”

“Comparatively, the annual budget received by the sport organisations to develop their respective sports in the whole nation is less than that of a one-time event of some ministries and agencies,” Sangay Tempa said.

Scotland’s sports nutrition and medicine’s experts, Ronald John Maughan (PhD) and Susan Margaret Shirreffs (PhD) conducted the seminar on the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee.

The seminar was conducted from December 28 to 30 as per the request from athletes during the previous seminar on Athletes Forum.

Susan Margaret Shirreffs said athletes needs energy and nutrients to carry out training and other activities. “Nutrition for athletes is different from that of non-athletes as they need to develop their muscles and general body composition which is not necessarily required for general population.”

“Athletes will not perform well in the competition if they don’t take in adequate amount of nutrients,” Susan Margaret Shirreffs said. “Taking part in their training programme along with specific diet is essential.”

The expert, however, was pleased that some Bhutanese athletes have nutrition knowledge. “It seems the course reinforced knowledge of some and significantly informed others.”

Sangay Tempa said that courses on sports physiotherapy and sports psychology will be conducted in future. ACB looks after the concerns of national athletes and strengthen the relation between the athletes, National Sports Organisations, Sports Associations and BOC.