An olympic dream
For the first time in Bhutan Shooting Federation’s history, a Bhutanese woman shooter will represent the country at the 2012 London Olympics
Twenty-eight year-old Kunzang Choden firmly holds the 4.5kg Feinwerkbau 700 air rifle at eye level, aims at the target and pulls the trigger. For her this is a ritual-practice session, only this time she is aiming for the stars.
She is the first woman and the only Bhutanese who will partake in a shooting event in the London Olympics later this year. Bhutan Olympic Committee received a wild card entry from the International Olympics Committee a few weeks ago. From among the four shooters training under the federation, Kunzang Choden topped the list with a personal best of 375 points of a total of 400 points. For a wild card entry in this sport, 375 is the minimum score required. From Thimphu, Kunzang Choden developed a passion for shooting only at the tail end of 2004 after meeting her husband who is also a shooter. A broad smile flashes across her face as she tries to suppress the joy and excitement of receiving the wild card in the sport. “I feel very proud and fortunate,” she lets out. In 2011, Kunzang Choden represented Bhutan in the 4th South Asian Air Gun Championships that was held in Kuwait. But she did not make it further than the first qualifyinground. She also represented Bhutan in 2009 at the fifth South Asian air Gun Championship held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Coach Kinzang Seldon, who is currently raining Kunzang Choden, says, “She is a very sincere, hard working woman. She is very punctual and what’s really good about her is that she has the will to practice and train.”
A mother of two Kunzang Choden finds it difficult to balance her career with home life but she says there is no giving up on the sport she loves. She trains mentally and physically for over rigorous six hours every day. “Concentration is a matter of utmost importance in this sport. Shooting is a game of the mind and the body and a perfect co-ordination between thetwo,” she says. Currently, she is focusing all her energy in preparing for the Olympics. “I will give my best shot and try to go as far as I can,” she reveals. “Competing in a global event like the Olympics is going to be very challenging and I am putting my heart and soul into the practice.” And Kunzang Choden is trying achieve this feat against lot of odds.
Usually shooters use Feinwerkbau air rifles with 4.5mm calibre but the one Kunzang Choden is training with, by Olympics standards, is out-dated. She is waiting for a new compressor as the old one isn’t working. A coach and BSF official Dorji Phurba said the shooting equipment are very expensive. “We have to get the equipment all the way from Germany, Switzerland and Italy.” Plus, she shoots at paper targets while computer electronic targets are used at the Olympics. Coach Kinzang Seldon said shooting at electronic targets can make a lot of difference. “In the international arenas, athletes and the audience can view the score and the target on a wide screen,” she said. All these constraints haven’t deterred the country’s top shooter. “I am happy to get this opportunity to represent my country at the Olympics and I will try my best do my country proud.”
Kunzang Choden wants to shoot until she can no longer compete. Luckily, shooting is a sport with no age limit, she says. “Until my eye sight is perfect and so long I can hold the rifle, I will keep shooting.
Yiwang Pindarica from Thimphu