Thinley Namgay

Sapuna Subba, a Class XII student of Gesarling Central School, Dagana has become the first para-athlete to win a medal in international competition.

She made the country proud by winning two bronzes in her debut at the 2021 Asian Youth Para Games (AYPG) in Bahrain.

Sapuna Subba said: “Winning medals at AYPG has set a higher benchmark not just for me but also for other athletes.”

She hopes that her achievements will encourage others to join the paralympic movement and bring glory to our country.

Sapuna said she was fortunate to represent Bhutan and win medals. “I am lucky to receive strong support from my parents, my school, the Bhutan Badminton Federation, and the Bhutan Paralympic Committee.”

Bahrain was 20-year-old Sapuna’s first foreign destination.

According to Sapuna, the huge and tall buildings she saw in Bahrain were breathtaking. “Culture there and the way people live their lives were amazing.”

Once there among many athletes, their confidence and seriousness towards the game motivated her to work hard and do better. She made friends with athletes from India and Korea.

“I want to train hard and set a higher benchmark for myself in the coming years. I want to prove to myself and others that nothing is impossible, whatever circumstances one is in.”

Lack of exposure affected her confidence and she found communication challenging. “Many there do not seem to speak English. Getting around can be a bit difficult.”

Coach Dorji of Bhutan Badminton Federation trained Sapuna for three months at her school before going to Bahrain.  On November 4, she reached Thimphu and underwent further training.

Sapuna defeated Hawwa Eshal Riyaz of the Maldives in two straight sets, 21-9 and 22-20, in the Women’s Singles in the SH6 category. She also gave a brubbing to Shormi Mozumder of Bangladesh in the same category, 21-13 and 21-4.

Bhutan and Japan defeated Bangladesh in the mixed doubles match with 21-10 and 21-14. Sapuna’s Japanese teammate was Tomoya Uenot.

Sapuna said: “My message to people with disabilities and society is that whatever difficulties you may be suffering, confidence is key. Communicate with others and build your inner strength.”