Besides carrying out regular farm activities, which often-required carrying heavy loads, Kezang Dorji did not do any extra practice for the strong man (nyagoe) competition.

The 26-year-old farmer, who got selected from the dzongkhag on August 26, said he has been waiting to be the dzongkhag nyagoe for the last two years. “I could not participate in 2015 because there was no dzongkhag level competition and last year I missed it because of farm work.”

Kezang Dorji is from one of the most remote villages in Tsirang – Tsakaling of Patshaling gewog.

He surprised the Tsirang public, who had gathered to watch the competition when he beat other four masculine participants and completed the race.

Kezang Dorji said nyagoe is all about strength and balancing. “It is not easy. The seemingly easy task is quite difficult,” he said.

It took 20 minutes, 15 seconds for him to complete the drill, which requires pulling a log, chopping it, lifting and carrying a bag of sand and tyres.

While his four contenders gave up before completing two of the four tasks, Kezang carried out the task with pace. “It was my first time participating in such a competition and it took a little more time but for the national level I’ll prepare and complete it faster,” he said.

Among the entire tasks, Kezang said he found sand lifting the most difficult one. The 120-kilogramme sack of sand slipped from his hand several times before he could complete the task. “Lifting sand is something we usually don’t do in the village, so I did a little practice at home,” he said.

For other tasks such as pulling and carrying logs and chopping wood are daily activities in the village. “It’s just time bound here,” he said. “I hope I will be able to perform well at the dzongkhag level.”

Meanwhile, a 70-year-old man, Sonam Tshering Tamang, from Rangthaling gewog also participated in the competition.

For the oldest participant, he said it was not about winning the competition but letting the young people know that age should not be a barrier to participate in such competitions.

Sonam Tshering said he was confident he would complete all four task even if he did not win. Unfortunately, he had to give up after he struggled to complete the log pulling.  “I’ve not been well for some time, that could have taken my strength,” he said.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang