Athletics: The fastest woman in the country today is a 17-year-old student of Yangchenphug higher secondary school in Thimphu.

A class XII science student, Sangay Wangmo has set a record of 13.76 seconds in the 100-metre dash at the 12th National School Athletics Meet last year. The sprinter also holds the record for the 200-metre dash at 29 seconds.

Sangay Wangmo discovered her talent in short distance running recently. She pursued her newfound interest in sprinting when she first qualified for the regional competitions in 2014.

“I love all kinds of sports but athletics and sprinting came to me as a surprise when I topped the school competition in 2014,” said Sangay Wangmo. “Until 2013, running and other athletics was just a part of the extra-curricular activity for me at school.”

The opportunities that opened up after her first national competition encouraged Sangay Wangmo to pursue her interest in short distance running. Sangay has participated in three international competitions so far starting from the Youth Olympic Competition in 2014 in China.

Last month, Sangay represented the country at the Asian Junior Competition in Vietnam. She was also a part of a sports exchange programme in Japan in May this year, which was initiated by a former Japanese Olympian, Dai Tamesue.

Although the teenager hasn’t won any medals at the international level, she is hopeful that she will get there one day. “For now the only objective is to keep improving and perform better than my previous records,” she said.

Sangay Wangmo shares her athletic nature with her two siblings in the family. Her youngest sister, 11-year old Delkar Lhamo is also a sprinter with the Bhutan Amature Athletic Federation (BAAF). Her elder sister is also a volleyball and basketball player at her college.

“Sports runs in my family genes. Except for my mother, everyone is an athlete in their own capacity,” said Sangay Wangmo.

But often Sangay is met with comments saying that women athletes are masculine. The remarks, however, doesn’t deter the teenager.

“Most of the people think that being an athlete requires building muscles. This is wrong. Being athletic is more to do with fitness than with building bulky muscles,” said Sangay. “I would recommend athletics to any female who has the interest to pursue their dream. We are here to provide all the assistance they need.”

Meanwhile, Sangay is currently preparing for the upcoming 13th National School Athletics Meet that begins today. After missing out from her training for about two weeks because of her exams, Sangay has been undergoing vigorous training for the last one week.

“I don’t know if I’ll able to win any medals this time, but all I know is that I have to prove myself and break my own record of 13.76 seconds. This will be a reward on its own for me,” said Sangay.

Sangay said that she would continue running after her studies and make a name for herself on the international stage. “If possible with proper training, I would like to represent the country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”

Younten Tshedup