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Archery - Coach drills selected archers June 2002

Archery training: The Bhutanese team is aiming to be in the top ten

Tshering Choden remembers the first time she took part in a regional archery competition. "I was so nervous, my senses were numbed I couldn't shoot straight." But that was four years ago. Today as one of Bhutan's finest women archers, Tshering has crossed the novelty threshold. So have the seven other archers recently selected to represent Bhutan at the Asian Games in South Korea, in September. Thanks to the exposure from numerous regional and international competitions. And they are practicing hard for the games in Korea. "The athletes are occupied at least 11 hours a day," said national archery coach Mr.Myun Kwon Park. Jogging in the morning, six hours of shooting, physical and mental training in the afternoons and evenings.

The Olympic archery range, above the swimming pool complex, is prone to distractions from new constructions nearby and the stream of passing vehicles below the Changangkha lhakhang. But the athletes go about their drill without much talk.

"In the weeks to come shooting practice will be increased especially in the evenings said Mr. Park. "The athletes are more poised, calm and focused shooting under floodlights. That is the feeling I want the athletes to develop and carry with them to the competition."

The men athletes shoot an average 1,300 points of a total of 1,440 points (over four distances for the qualifying round) which by world standards is good, says the national coach. "If they can perform the same level in the competition our ranking will be within the first 10." So the shooting sessions are held as matches to create the competitive atmosphere.

In the 1998 Asian games in Bangkok, Thailand, Bhutan was ranked fourth in the team event, the best result so far in an international event. "We can't really say, but I think we do have a chance of a medal," says Tashi Penjor, 24, who stood first during the selections. "All the men archers have experience and shoot equally well." Tashi Penjor will lead Rinzin Chophel and Tashi Dorji in the individual and team events. Veteran archer Jubzang, who came fourth in the selections, will join the team as a stand-by. Tshering Choden will lead the women's team of Tenzin Lham and Dorji Dolma and stand-by Dorji Dema.

This article was contributed by KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper 2002
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