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Policeman’s journey to karate excellence

Twenty-two-year-old Passang Tobgay from Sarpang has managed to achieve remarkable success in martial arts despite the challenges he faces. Juggling an eight-hour job in the Royal Bhutan Police, his passion and perseverance have led him to win both a gold and a silver medal within a span of just eleven months.

Passang’s journey began when he secured a silver medal in the 75-kilogram category at the International BG Karate Championship at Dhaka in Bangladesh

A few months later, he secured the gold medal in the 81-kilogram category at the Indian Martial Arts Sansthan Karate Championship held at Rajasthan in India.

Living in the RBP Dekha in Thimphu, Passang’s day starts early at 5 AM. He prepares for his duty at the Thimphu Central Police Station by washing his face and engaging in a brief exercise routine to stay fit. He then walks through Thimphu city to reach his eight-hour duty as a member of the Quick Reaction Team.

He then walks through Thimphu city to reach his eight-hour duty as a member of the Quick Reaction Team. After completing his duty, he hurriedly returns to Dekha, changes his clothes and heads to Changlimithang for his karate training.

Despite his parents’ divorce when he was 12 years old, he managed to graduate from Sarpang Central School in 2019. Passang worked as an assistant accountant in a private company in 2020 before joining the police force in 2021.

He completed his training at Jimeling last year and was assigned to the Special Reserved Police Force in Chhukha. It was during this time that he got selected for karate training in Thimphu, which eventually paved the way for his impressive medal tally.

‘‘Dasho allowed us to focus on training for eight months, exempting us from regular duty. We dedicated ourselves to daily training during this period. However, due to a shortage of police personnel for duty, we had to interrupt our training and fulfil our duty. The coach would call us for training but due to a shortage of people, we often missed training sessions. Sometimes, we managed to adjust our duty by one to two hours to attend training. In most cases, we went for training after completing our duty.”

Meanwhile, according to other karate players, it has been difficult for them to improve their skills and gain confidence to compete with international athletes due to various challenges.

‘‘There are fewer athletes from Bhutan to compete with others. This is due to limited funds and sponsors. For locals and national athletes, we have limited tournaments, and due to that, we have difficulties in getting confidence, improving ourselves, and difficulties in competing with other countries,’’ said Khamsum Choiten, a karate player.

The Indian Martial Arts Sansthan Karate Championship, held in May saw 150 participants from India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nepal, and Bhutan. Bhutan secured the third position with Passang contributing by winning a gold and three silver and bronze medals.

Out of the nine Bhutanese athletes who participated, four have already been shortlisted for the upcoming Asian Games in China and are undergoing training.

Two of them will ultimately represent Bhutan in the games scheduled from September to October.

Karma Wangdi

Edited by Sonam Pem