By Tenzin Dharpo
Screeb grab showing Tibetan track athlete Topgyel after winning his race at the 13th National Games in Tianjin, China. Sept. 5, 2017.
DHARAMSHALA, Sept. 6: Two Tibetan athletes have won top honors in their track and field events at the ongoing 13th National games of China in Tianjin on Tuesday. Topgyal from Lhasa has bagged gold in the 10,000m race in an emphatic fashion clocking 28.26 minutes, just shy of two minutes from the reigning world record in the discipline. Choeyang Kyi, the first Tibetan to participate in the Olympics, won silver in walking race event at the Tianjin national games on Tuesday. Kyi hails from Tsojhang in the eastern Tibetan region of Amdo.
Track athlete Tobgye, 23, native of Taktse County near Tibet’s capital Lhasa, had earlier represented China at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He joined Tibet’s Sports Academy as a teen and later trained in Africa and took part in the Asian Games, Asian Championships, Beijing Track and Field World Championships, and the IAAF Diamond League.
Topgyal’s coach Kelsang Tsering was quoted as saying that Topgyal’s physical pedigree is due to his special Tibetan diet. “No matter where my athletes go, I will always bring plateau yak meat for them to eat, as well as Tsampa (roasted barley) and butter tea. After I feed them some boiled yak meat, their faces quickly recover,” Tsering earlier said.
He was the second prominent Tibetan in the Chinese contingent besides Choeyang Kyi who won an Olympic silver medal in the 20km walking race event last year.
Chinese state run website China Tibet News
which described Tobgye as “the famous race athlete” mentioned, “Tobgye's participation in 2016 Olympic Games not only shows that Tibet's competitive sports level has been improved, but also demonstrates to the world that Tibet has gained great achievements in social and economic development.”
However, former Minister for Information and International Relations of the CTA earlier in 2012 retorted that such claims by China is not in par with the realities in Tibet. She told sports.inquirer.net, “China uses things like this for their political gain. The fact that a Tibetan is participating in the Olympics does not take away anything from the dire situation prevailing inside Tibet.”