Thinley Namgay

In a remarkable feat for Bhutan, 22-year-old Passang Tobgay, representing the Bhutan Karate Association, clinched a gold medal for the country in the -81kg weight category at the prestigious Indian Martial Arts Sansthan Karate Championship held in Rajasthan, India.

Passang Tobgay demonstrated exceptional skill and determination as he triumphed over opponents from four different countries. His victory marks the second gold for Bhutan in karate within the first five months of this year.

For the past five years, Bhutan has struggled to secure gold in international competitions. However, Passang Tobgay’s outstanding performance has brought renewed hope to the Bhutanese karate community. 

Expressing his delight, Passang Tobgay said: “It is the result of rigorous training over the last eight months. Although I am relatively new to karate, I have been dedicated to the sport for the past 11 months.” 

He emphasised the importance of proper training and hard work, noting that opportunities are abundant for those who focus and persevere.

The Indian Martial Arts Sansthan Karate Championship, held between May 27 and 28, witnessed the participation of 150 athletes from Bhutan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Nepal. Bhutan secured third position, claiming a total of seven medals – one gold, three silver, and three bronze. 

Out of the nine Bhutanese athletes who competed, four have already been shortlisted for the upcoming Asian Games in China.

Tshering Dorji, the coach of the Bhutan Karate Association, revealed that only two athletes would be selected to represent Bhutan in the Asian Games. 

Dorji attributed the improved performance of the participants in the championship to their heightened focus and dedication, and support from various stakeholders. 

Bhutan Karate Association has devised plans for the development of the sport. One such plan involves recruiting a volunteer coach from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to refine training methods, offer valuable guidance, and bring fresh perspectives to enhance the overall karate programme. 

The association has already applied for the JICA Volunteer and eagerly awaits their assistance.

In July, the association aims to launch a talent identification programme in schools to identify potential athletes and provide them with training opportunities. 

Furthermore, the association aspires to transition from an association to a federation.