A team consisting of four athletes, trainers, and president of Bhutan Bodybuilding and Weightlifting Federation left the country on October 2 to participate in the ninth World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports championship in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

In the team are Sangay Tsheltrium, the two-time title winner of Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports championship in the men’s athletic physique up to 175cm, Thinly Dorji, gold medalist in Asian championship and the top five contenders of world athletic physique last year, Tandin Wangchen, the former two-time Mr. Bhutan, and Damcho Zam, Miss fitness Bhutan 2017.

The athletes are bearing their own expenses to take part in the championship.

General Secretary of Bhutan Bodybuilding and Weightlifting Federation, Tashi Lhendup, said that the federation sent several athletes to take part in the international championships but couldn’t support the athletes taking part in the world championship as the competition is beyond the priority of the federation.

“We shouldn’t stop the athletes from taking part in such international tournaments. However, we feel that we are not yet ready to take part in the world championships. The athletes have started to win medals in Asian championship and our focus is national, South Asian, and Asian level championships,” he said.

Tashi Lhendup said that the federation would support the athletes to take part in such competitions in the future. “The support to compete in such championships should be a gradual process. We will support them when we feel that the athletes are ready and have potential for such level of competition.”

Bhutanese bodybuilders won 11 medals at the 50th Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports championship when Bhutan hosted the competition for the first time in Thimphu in 2016. The athletes also won three medals at the Asian level competition.

Thinley Dorji said that the federation supported many athletes taking part in international competitions before. “We can’t always depend on federation; we should look for the sponsors. I am lucky to have many people who understand my passion and support me.”

Thinley Dorji, Tandin Wangchen, and Sangay Tsheltrium will compete in the category of athletic physique above 180 cm. Damcho Zam will take part in athletic physique category above 165cm.

The championship is the third international competition for Damcho Zam. She said that her preparation began since she won the fitness title in June.

“It’s a big competition and I don’t know how I would be able to perform. I am going with my best form and will give my best,” she said.

A total of 60 countries will compete in more than 39 different categories that will end on October 9.