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Judo gaining popularity with Bhutanese

Judo: After three years of constant practise and dedication, 15-year-old Bikash Tamang is today one of the elite judokas in the country.

Bikash Tamang is a man of few words. And he doesn’t look like a judo expert.

The Class-IX student of Pelkhil School joined the judo association in 2012. The sport didn’t interest him much and he left the sport after a year.

“I left judo for a year because I wanted to explore some other games. Moreover, my family moved out and I couldn’t go for regular training. I lost interest by the by,” said Bikash Tamang.

In 2014, Bikash Tamang joined the association again. “Apart from school, I was staying idle at home most of the time. I wanted to join judo again to keep myself engaged,” he said.

Bhutan Judo Association’s (BJA) assistant coach Pema Dargay said that the association gets several requests from former players to join again, but only a selective few are given the second opportunity.

“We accepted Bikash because we knew he had the talent,” said Pema Dargay. “Ever since he got back in the association his performance has been improving with each tournament. He is one of the dedicated students we have today.”

Apart from winning local tournaments, Bikash Tamang has participated in several international competitions and has won three bronze medals so far.

Today Bikash Tamang is undergoing training for the upcoming 6th Children of Asia International Sports Games at Yakutsk, Sakha Republic in Russia next month.

“I want to win a gold or a silver this time, not just for the country but also to prove it to myself that I can improve with dedication and hard work,” said Bikash Tamang. “I always try to do my best. Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not. But this is where I learn things and improve along the way. I hope to do better this time.”

BJA’s head coach Yoshi Hiro Horiuchi said that Bikash Tamang is a fast learner equipped with good speed and agility to cope up with his training schedules.

“The competition in Russia is a big opportunity for Bikash to prove himself,” said Yoshi Hiro Horiuchi. “With proper training and guidance, Bikash has a very bright future in judo.”

Yoshi Hiro Horiuchi, JICA volunteer, who has been training the Bhutanese judokas since July 2014, will be mentoring his students for the last time this month. “My farewell gift to Bhutan and the judo association will be to train the judokas and prepare them to win some medals at the competition.”

Yoshi Hiro Horiuchi said that judo is a new sport in the country and there are several opportunities for youth who share the interest for the game. “Bhutanese have the potential. I hope to see some of my students at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan.”

Judo in Bhutan started as a club from Pelkhil School six years ago. With the increasing popularity of the sport, the association got affiliated with the Bhutan Olympic Committee in 2015.

Currently there are around about 80 regular and 200 irregular members with the association.

Younten Tshedup 

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