Bhutan’s First Participation in the South Asian Cross-Country Championship

Bhutan’s coach Kezang said that the athletes have become familiar with the sport. “Although we don’t expect to win any medals, we hope to give our best.”

Bhutan’s First Participation in the South Asian Cross-Country Championship. (Source: https://www.runsociety.com)

 

For the first time, Bhutan will participate in the South Asian cross-country championship which will be held at the Royal Thimphu Golf course on 27 March 2018.

Bhutanese male athletes will run 10km along with competitors, the Asian medallists, Olympians, and South Asian champions from six other Asian nations and female runners will compete in the 8km cross-country race.

The six-men team includes winners of the Laya run, the Bhutan international marathon, and the coronation marathon. Four women winners of the middle-long distance runners were selected to form the national team. The teams have been practicing for more than two months.

Two winners of the 25 km Laya run, Sangay and Gawa Zangpo that completed the marathon held above 3000 m within approximately 2 hours last year, will be joined by other national middle distance runners namely: Sangay Wangchuk, Nima Yoezer, Tshering Wangchuk and Dechen Ugyen.

Athletes are getting seasoned to cross country racing

Bhutan’s coach Kezang said that the athletes have become familiar with the sport. “Although we don’t expect to win any medals, we hope to give our best.”

With the last minute withdrawal of Pakistan, the championship will see six South Asian countries – Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and the Maldives participating.

India is considered the strongest team. The Indian women team consists of the bronze medallist at the 14th Asian cross-country championship held in China last month. The men’s team has the runner who came in fourth in the same championship.

India’s coach Vijendra Singh said that his team is confident of winning the championship. “We hope that we will be the champions. However, we will be able to see the winners once we reach the finish line.”

The Maldives coach said that his team could not include the best athletes as they had to prepare for the Asian games scheduled in August this year.

Bangladesh will also have its men’s team participate in the cross country race for the first time.

The Bangladesh team captain said that the team did not get enough time to build on the squad. “The result does not matter much as we’re here to promote regional harmony through athletics,” he said. “Participation is also important.”

Entering the championship as one of the favourite teams, Sri Lanka which was ranked 10th in the Asian cross-country race with Asian medallists and national winners representing the country.

Sri Lanka’s two national athletes, Rajpaksha Mudiyanselage Samantha Pushpa Kumara and Rathnayaka Nilani earned a spot each to take part in the Asian competitions after winning the 44th national cross-country championship last month.

However, the duo took part in this race as independent athletes and were not allowed to any awards by the Department of Sports Development. They also represented Sri Lanka in the Asian cross-country championship held in China last month.

Strong team from Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s coach Nobert Perera said that his team consists of the best track and field runners, and middle distance runners. “We have the best team and we will try our best.”

The championship will also see Nepal which is ranked 19th in Asian cross-country running, fields Nepal’s armed force athletes today.

Nepal’s four-men team includes athletes from the armed forces who won the top three positions respectively in the open half marathon held in Kathmandu last month.

The Nepal’s women’s team include Reshu Basnet of the Nepali Army and Bindra Dhanke Shrestha of the Armed Police Force who secured the top three positions at the national open half marathon.

The team led by a coach, Amiri Prasad Yadav will take part in the South Asian cross-country race for the first time.

Nepal’s coach Amiri Prasad said that the toughest team in the championship would be India and Sri Lanka.

“We are here to try for the bronze medal but not the gold.”

He said that the event would help Bhutan prepare better future athletes.The event will host a total of 43 athletes, of which 16 are women.

 

By Nima (This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the New Bhutan Times).

 


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