Bhutanese boxers gear up for World Qualification Tournament

Two Bhutanese boxers are undergoing training in the capital for the 2024 Boxing 2nd World Qualification Tournament, which will be held in Thailand later this month. The duo will compete in the flyweight and featherweight categories. The tournament will be the final opportunity for the boxers to earn a quota for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The duo will depart for Bangkok on the 8th of May to participate in a two-week training camp before the Olympic qualifiers.

Tashi Wangdi, 27 years old, from Trashigang, will compete in the 51-kilogramme category. He has represented Bhutan in 13 international games.

Starting boxing at 16, Tashi Wangdi has won numerous medals in regional and international tournaments ever since. He is confident that with more opportunities, he will continue to succeed in international tournaments.

“In the national championships, the number of boxers in the country is limited. There are fewer competitors in our national championships, which means we lack exposure and experience. When we compete abroad, we encounter well-experienced boxers, making it challenging for us to secure victories. Given more opportunities to participate in international games and the recruitment of additional boxers, we believe we stand a better chance of winning.”

Similarly, 22-year-old Tashi Yoezer from Lhuentse began boxing in 2016 and has participated in two international tournaments. Tashi will also compete in the 57-kilogramme category in the upcoming tournament.

“If we have more opportunities to participate in international tournaments, we can learn from our mistakes and study our opponents. Without such chances, we lack the opportunity to analyse our opponents. With more opportunities, we can better understand the movements and power of our opponents’ punches, allowing us to adjust our strategies based on our experiences.”

Head coach Tashi Phuntsho, who has been training the two boxers for about six months, says that qualifying for the Olympics is challenging.

According to the coach, in continental qualifying tournaments, the boxers must win gold or silver medals to qualify.

Similarly, in the first and second qualification tournaments, they must reach the semi-finals to secure a spot in the Olympics.

“Many countries typically practice or train for a minimum of four to eight years to qualify for the Olympic Games. For instance, athletes competing in this year’s Olympics may have started their training and preparation eight years ago. In our country, however, we usually train for a maximum of about two years, and we struggle to maintain focus on our training.”

In the 2nd World Qualification Tournament, the two boxers will compete for the 28 remaining Olympic quota places across seven weight categories.

The Bhutanese boxers previously participated in the 1st World Qualification Tournament in Italy in March. The 2024 Paris Olympics are scheduled to start on the 26th of July.

Karma Wangdi

Edited by Sherub Dorji

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