Excitement is building within the Bhutanese sports community as the prestigious Asian Games (AG) draw near. All eyes are on two accomplished and seasoned swimmers, Sangay Tenzin and Kinley Lhendup, representing the Bhutan Aquatics Federation. These exceptional athletes will proudly compete for their country in the highly anticipated AG, which is scheduled to take place in China this September.
Sangay Tenzin will showcase his talent in the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle categories, while Kinley Lhendup will participate in the 200-meter individual medley and 100-meter butterfly events.
To ensure they are fully prepared for the AG, both swimmers will first participate in the world swimming championship, set to take place in Japan from July 23 to 28. This international competition serves as a crucial stepping stone for their performance in the highly competitive AG.
Swimming has been gaining popularity in Bhutan in recent years, thanks in part to the remarkable achievements of athletes like Sangay Tenzin and Kinley Lhendup in major international tournaments. Their selection to represent Bhutan at the prestigious AG stands as a testament to the growing interest and dedication of Bhutanese youth in swimming.
Since 2019, this dynamic duo has undergone rigorous training at a center in Phuket, Thailand, alongside swimmers from over 12 countries. With support from FINA, the International Swimming Federation, and under the guidance of their coach Alexander Tikhonov, a former Russian swimmer, Sangay and Kinley train for 10 sessions a week. Each day, they spend four hours swimming, in addition to four gym sessions. Their training regimen also includes monthly monitoring of their body composition by nutritionists.
With nearly four years of professional training under their belts, these Bhutanese swimmers are expected to deliver impressive performances at the AG. They will face formidable competitors from across Asia.
Sangay Tenzin already boasts considerable international experience, having participated in seven international competitions. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he achieved a personal best record of 57.57 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle. His most outstanding performance to date occurred at the 2022 swimming championship in Budapest, Hungary, where he finished the 100-meter freestyle in 57.4 seconds, surpassing his own Olympics record.
Confident and determined, 19-year-old Sangay Tenzin from Sarpang expressed his readiness for the upcoming AG. He stated, “Training is on track, and I hope I can give my best.” While he aims to outperform his previous appearances, he acknowledges the daunting challenge that lies ahead, with swimming powerhouses like China, Japan, and Singapore dominating the field.
For 19-year-old Kinley Lhendup from Thimphu, the championship in Japan serves as an opportunity to assess his readiness for the AG. Following an impressive performance at the 65th Malaysia Open Swimming Championships in March 2023, Kinley gained confidence and recognizes the level of competitiveness at the AG. During the Malaysia Open, he achieved remarkable results in various events, including the 50-meter freestyle in 2.81 seconds, 400-meter freestyle in 4 minutes and 44 seconds, 100-meter backstroke in 1 minute and 10 seconds, 200-meter butterfly in 2 minutes and 34 seconds, and 400-meter individual medley in 5 minutes and 32 seconds.
In addition to their regular training, swimmers like Kinley Lhendup focus on enhancing breath control endurance, body strength, and mental flexibility. They understand the vital role these factors play in their overall performance.
Like his fellow swimmer Sangay Tenzin, Kinley aims to surpass his previous records and deliver a stellar performance at the AG, regardless of the outcome in terms of medals.