Olympic gold medalist says Bhutanese hold good potential in sport
Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay met an Olympic gold medalist from Japan, Naoko Takahshi, on 17 January in Thimphu.
Naoko Takahashi visited Bhutan as JICA’s ambassador, Kenji Hiramatsu, encouraged the developing world to prioritize sports.
Lyonchen thanked her for finding time to visit Bhutan and inspiring the Bhutanese women. He said, “You are an inspiration and hero not just to the Japanese but to the world.”
Naoko Takahashi recorded the women’s marathon Olympic in 2000 Sydney to win gold and she broke the women’s marathon world record in Berlin a year later where she became the first woman to complete a marathon within two hours and 20 minutes.
After observing the athletics at the winter coaching camp in Bhutan, she said that Bhutanese athletics have a great potential. She also said that Bhutan has right conditions for training.
She expects Bhutan to become the paradise for sport-loving people. She said, “Bhutan’s athletes are very competitive and if they are trained well, they will be able to participate in the international events.”
Lyonchen also expects to see international runners to visit Bhutan on training. “I wish to see Japanese runners in particular to come and train here,” he said, “So that they can complete the full marathon less than two hours in Tokyo 2020 Olympic.”
Lyonchen said that the Bhutanese by nature have a strong core. “There is a need to tap into this to create a sporting culture,” he said.
Lyonchen introduced a young marathoner, Chimi Dema from Royal Thimphu College, to the Japanese Olympic gold medalist. “She has the potential, discipline and courage to perform better,” he said.
Chimi Dema won the silver medal in Snowman Run clocking at 7:39:19 last year. The two-day Snowman Run from Gasa Tshachu to Laya, spanning 53-kilometers, is one of the most difficult in Bhutan and toughest in the world.
The open cross-country race ascends from 2,231 meters (m) above sea level to 4,000 m.
A once-in-a-lifetime running retreat will be organized by Bhutan International Marathon (BIM) in corporation with Sister Marathon Peace Initiative. Chimi Dema is undergoing training for the BIM that is expected to be conducted from 1 to 7 March this year.
The six-night and seven-day retreat is expected to see a group of Bhutanese officials, spiritual leaders, international runners, guest speakers and coaches who intend to bring fresh, new dialogue to each other’s lives.
Besides, Lyonchen also said that the Bhutanese are fortunate to have Royal family members who are very active. “His Majesty the king is frequently trekking and hiking,” he said.