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Tibetan Exiles Pride Themselves In Their Own Olympics

May 25, 2008

By Phurbu Thinley
Phayul
May 23, 2008

Dharamsala, May 23 -- The much hyped Tibetan Olympics kicked off with Archery and shooting competition rounds here yesterday at a picturesque lush green lawn formed against a backdrop of Himalayan mountain range.

The Tibetan Olympics has 10 women and 13 men competing in its customized decathlon.

"We don't have a chief guest, we don't have the power and money to get the people here, but you are all our chief guests and we all declare this parallel Tibetan Olympics open," Shihan Hussaini, a speaker at the opening event, announced.

Hussaini, a karate master and a professional archery trainer by profession, has volunteered to train the participants of the mock Tibetan Olympics, organised by Lobsang Wangyal to give young Tibetans in exile a platform to exhibit their sporting talents and aspirations.

"The track may be simple, the dresses may be simple, the equipment may be simple and there may be rain, but our spirit will continue and we will go on together," Hussaini told a modest gathering of participants and enthusiasts, dominated by a large media presence.

The 23 odd participants repeatedly shouted Tibetan freedom slogans in unison drawing cheers from limited crowd before they got ready for their first completion round.

In archery, each competitor was given three arrows to shoot in two minutes.

24-year old Dawa Tashi from Delhi came out winner in the Men’s archery with his best hit fetching him 25 points out of maximum 30 in one single round as he proceeded from one level to the next.

In women’s category, Dhadon 25 from Kathmandu, Nepal, came first.

The four best archers stood in line and bowed to the crowd at the end of each winning rounds. The top four winners in each sport will score 5, 3, 2 and 1 points respectively. The overall highest scorer each from the men and women’s sides from all the ten sports will be declared the final winner.

Dawa, who now has five points to his credit, said he was happy to have done well after going through only a half day of vigorous training session. He was however, "not satisfied” with his overall performance. “I can definitely do much better with more practice" he said. "We have had a very good trainer, and we did it in such a short time!" he exclaims.

Mr Dawa said he felt proud being part of the Tibetan Olympics. For him it signifies "a non-violent and silent campaign to voice the sufferings of fellow Tibetans in Tibet."

The participant later competed in the shooting round followed by long-distance run here this morning in McLeod Ganj.

They will have swimming round at Funky Town pool not far from McLeod town tomorrow.

The grand Final round, including opening and closing ceremony, will be held at the Upper Tibetan Children’s Village ground on Sunday.

"I am very satisfied and happy to see the way the Tibetan Olympics is going on already. I can now judge the situation. We have now ten women and 13 men taking part in it," the games director Mr Wangyal told Phayul at the end of the long distance run.

"Two years ago when I first came up with this idea, I have no idea how this was going to work. I even thought of canceling the women’s category ten days before the event because of only one applicant," he said.

Mr Lobsang’s now worries he would be in debt after the event. "But it will be a worthwhile debt," he contends. "Tibetan Olympics can tell the world our part of the story that Tibetans are alive and kicking," he said.

Dhartso Kyi, who came first in today’s long-distance run, is currently preparing for her class 12 Board exams. She said she decided to sacrifice her 10 days for the games when she should have been studying hard for her tough science exams.

The 20-year old science student from UTCV School wants to become a dentist and go back to Tibet to serve fellow Tibetans. She was only 12 years old when she left her parents in Tibet’s Amdo province to make a risky journey across the harsh Himalayan terrains and arrived in India in 2000.

"I came to know there were very few girls taking part in the Tibetan Olympics. So I decided to contribute my part to make it a proud Tibetan event," she said.

"I like sports and Tibetans should have equal opportunity to take part in international sports," she told Phayul.

Tibetan Olympics, for her, is a step in the right direction. She dreams of a day when Tibetans would proudly take part in the Olympic Games.
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