In Conversation with Nawang Tsering, Athlete

By Nenzes Chodon Leh, Jan 16, 2024
Leh :

Q. Congratulations on securing the 2nd rank in the Indian men’s full marathon at the 37th Pune International Marathon 2023. Can you share your journey as an athlete and what inspired you to pursue this path?

Jullay, I'm Nawang Tsering from Lingshed. My athletic journey began during my schooling at Lamdon Model Senior Secondary School in Leh, where I am currently pursuing distance education. Witnessing the dedication of my hostel mates, who were avid marathon runners, inspired me to start running myself. We formed a team called COSMOS and actively participated in various sports activities.

In 2012, seeing my friends travel to Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata for marathons ignited my own aspirations. Their dedication became my motivation, and I began training with them for several years. In 2014, I took my first steps into the world of marathons. During those early days, my friends provided wholehearted support. I vividly remember borrowing running shoes from my friend Jigmet Norbo, who later became a fellow marathon enthusiast. I returned the borrowed shoes after practice sessions. Their encouragement and appreciation for my hard work fuelled my passion for sports.

I received initial support from the Former Principal of Lamdon School Leh, Sir Eshay Tundup, and the Lamdon society. This support continued through the current principal, Sir Dawa. Additional assistance came from the UT administration, CEC, Sports Secretary, CID Leh, and Ladakh Police. Our participation in marathons across Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata was fully sponsored by the RIMO expedition until the lockdown. Following the lockdown, the UT administration and Sports Secretary continued to support us.

I owe immense gratitude to my foreign sponsor, Achey Phuntsok Angmo Moljoks, and the former principal of Lamdon Leh, Sir Eshey Tundup, for their support. Presently, I am accommodated at Lamdon Boys Hostel in Leh, provided with the necessary facilities to continue pursuing my athletic endeavors.

Q. Tell us about your marathon journey and the milestones you've achieved so far.

 Throughout my marathon journey, I've proudly secured eight gold medals, three silver medals, and one bronze medal. I've participated in marathons across Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Ladakh, marking significant milestones in my athletic career.

Between 2014 and 2020, Ka Mutup and the RIMO expedition have been pivotal in supporting our endeavors outside Ladakh. Their unwavering support included providing essential facilities whenever we ventured beyond Ladakh's boundaries. Additionally, their financial assistance and the provision of a dedicated coach during our Mumbai stint were invaluable contributions to our journey.

Q. What challenges have you faced as an athlete, and how do you overcome them?

As an athlete, maintaining both physical and mental agility is crucial. There have been moments when the temptation of laziness weighed me down. Particularly, practicing during harsh winters in extreme cold posed significant difficulties. However, I persevered by reminding myself of the unwavering support I've received from numerous individuals.

Venturing into marathons beyond Ladakh taught me the importance of focusing and honing skills in a specific sport to attain excellence. This realization fuelled my determination to deepen my interest and commitment to becoming a better athlete. Overcoming these challenges has been a testament to my dedication and the encouragement I've received along this journey.

Q. What positive changes have you noticed in the sports sector in Ladakh since becoming a Union Territory?

Previously, during Ladakh's tenure under the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir, access to sports equipment was hindered by insufficient funds. However, since Ladakh transitioned into a Union Territory, a noticeable shift has occurred. Today, accessibility to essential sports equipment has significantly improved. We now receive equipment annually from the UT administration for both practice sessions and competitive races, including bags and shoes. This enhanced support has immensely benefited athletes like myself, enabling us to train and compete more effectively.

Q. You've participated in marathons alongside athletes from around the world. What differences have you observed, and what's the potential for Ladakhi athletes to shine at the international level?

Ladakhis exhibit tremendous potential in the realm of sports. Our upbringing in high-altitude regions has cultivated robust lung capacity, often praised during health evaluations. Some have even remarked that Ladakhis possess Olympic-level lung strength. Despite this inherent potential, the lack of fundamental sports facilities has hindered our progress in the field. The absence of dedicated coaches to train athletes stands out as a key limitation preventing Ladakhis from showcasing their talents.

Compared to other regions in India, access to facilities in Ladakh is challenging due to harsh weather conditions. However, there has been notable progress over time, albeit gradual. While the road ahead might present hurdles, the perseverance and determination of Ladakhi athletes continue to drive our advancement in the sports sector. With improved access to facilities and adequate coaching, Ladakh has the potential to shine brightly on the international stage.

Q. Do you believe sports receive sufficient importance in our society? How crucial is it to prioritize sports alongside academics?

I believe sports haven't received the attention it rightfully deserves, possibly due to inadequate emphasis in the past. People need to recognise that engaging in outdoor games and sports promotes healthier habits than spending excessive time indoors with mobile phones. There's a growing need for greater encouragement for sports in our society, considering the diverse array of sports available today. Both men and women have ample opportunities, yet there's a particular need for more women to actively participate, as their numbers are relatively lower, resulting in fewer competitions among women.

Sports play a vital role in enhancing academics by breaking the monotony of daily routines. It's a platform that uncovers individual talents and underscores the importance of hard work and practice. Engaging in a specific sport exposes us to challenges, providing invaluable experiences that contribute to personal growth and development. Recognizing the value of sports alongside academics is crucial in fostering a well-rounded education and holistic personal development.

Q. What are your plans?

My ultimate goal is to earn a spot in the Olympics, representing Ladakh on the global stage. Achieving this dream will demand years of unwavering dedication, practice, and perseverance. I am determined to move forward with this aim and set my sights on reaching this pinnacle. Realistically, I estimate that it might take approximately 10 years of consistent and focused practice to turn this dream into a reality.

Message to the readers

“I would like to appeal to all parents to support their children. Each child inherently possesses unique talents, and it is crucial to nurture and encourage them to progress, ensuring that their distinctive abilities are recognized and not allowed to go to waste.”