Team Bhutan might not have secured the coveted medals in the 18th Asian Games but the team caught the attention of some of the international press.

The Associated Press’s (AP) sportswriter, Stephen Wade, wrote about the Bhutanese contingent not have having won any medals at the Asian Games so far.

The article, in its attempt to explore the reasons as to why Bhutan has not been successful at the multi-sport event, also reflected the Gross National Happiness (GNH) concept.

Speaking to Kuensel, Stephen Wade said that Bhutan is a good story, as it has not won any medals at the completion so far and then for the popular concept of GNH. “It is a very compelling story; a good chance to tell people about a place they don’t know about through sports.”

He said that after speaking to some of the Bhutanese athletes, the emphasis towards education given by the government over sports is a practical move.

“It is a better idea. Winning sports doesn’t equate to producing high-quality lives in the country,” he said. “I do not know well about Bhutan, but focusing on education is a good thing for me.”

He also said that the challenges associated with a small population and limited support from the government could be a factor for poor outcome at international competitions.

“You have about 750,000 people and there is a small pool of athletes to select from. China has 1.4 billion people. You are bound to find somebody there. It’s unfair to even think that you could compete.”

Stephen Wade said that in the Olympics results, there is a direct correlation between how much money a country spends and how many medals they win.

“Countries like the United States, Japan and China who spend heavily in sports get a lot medals. Poor countries that do not invest don’t win,” he said. “This doesn’t mean that people are less athletic in other countries. It just means that you can’t compete unless you have invested a lot of money to train and in providing facilities. This is the reality of sports in the 21st century.”

The AP’s article, ‘Bhutan: No medals yet in the Asian Games — but still happy’ was also covered in The Washington Post.

The Agency France-Presse (AFP) also wrote an article on the Bhutanese archers competing at the Games.

The article ‘Bowing to pressure: bamboo out, carbon fibre in for Bhutan’s archers’, explored how modern archer has taken over the traditional format in the country.

Meanwhile, Bhutan has been competing at the Asian Games since the Beijing 1990 Games. The closest it came to winning a medal was in Bangkok in 1998. The men’s archery team lost a bronze-medal match against China then.

Younten Tshedup | Jakarta