Sharing the track along national record holders of school athletics, Dinesh Kumar, a 21-year-old student of Royal Thimphu College finished first in the daylong open athletics championship that was held on September 17 in Thimphu.

Dinesh Kumar finished the 100m dash in 11:10 seconds. The current national record of the 100m dash at the national school level is 11:20 seconds. He also stood first last year after completing the dash in 11:30 seconds during the 13th National School Athletics Meet (NSAM).

He said that the event motivated him to work harder. “This platform helped me keep my dreams alive.  I hope to represent the country in regional and international championships,” he said.

Bhutan Amateur Athletic Federation (BAAF), which conducted the championship, saw more than 200 residents turning up for the event. It was held to promote fitness and healthy living while the federation identified potential and talented athletes. The tournament was an open competition and a platform for all to showcase their talents.

BAAF’s General Secretary, Dorji Tenzin said that the event is aimed at recognising potentials of youth away from schools and to nurture their talents. “All Bhutanese have potential but the challenge is too much focus on academic excellence of the children,” he said. “Unfortunately, this might be the reason why we see youth getting into substance abuse and the rise in suicide cases.”

He said that sport events share the importance of physical and mental strength in developing healthy habits and keep the youth away from substance abuse.

Goma Pradhan, the current national record holder of 400m and 800m national school athletics meet took part in the three track events. She won all three events.

She said that the national school athletic meet is limited to schools. “The event takes place once a year but participants in open championship come from different sectors,” she said. “My timing in the runs has improved.”

Goma Pradhan took part in the Asian Athletic championship, which was held in India earlier this year. She said that such events would help an athlete get familiar with the track and its rules. “My timing in the competition was good but the different rule while changing the track hampered my performance,” she said.

BAAF has more than 50 athletes registered into their squad. The athletes of the federation are trained and provided with athletics gears and diet.

The federation selects potential and exceptionally talented athletes from the squad to participate in international championship. They also accept potential athletes recommended by the 20 BAAF affiliated dzongkhag associations.

BAAF will conduct similar open series in Tsirang and Wangduephodrang this month. Winners of all track and field events were given a cash prize of Nu 3000 each with certificates.