Karma has become the first athlete from Bhutan to qualify an Olympic quota place in any sport. She won a recurve women’s archery spot for Tokyo 2020 during the Asian continental qualification tournament in Bangkok.
“It’s the first time for Bhutan to compete in a quarterfinal so I feel very happy and very lucky to shoot,” said Karma. “I feel my dream comes true. Before, it was a wildcard entry for me. Now I can compete with others, thank you so much.”
Archery is Bhutan’s national sport. The country has competed in every Olympic archery tournament since Los Angeles in 1984 but always received universality invitations. Karma had one of these free tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
(These invitations are awarded to smaller or developing sporting nations to ensure diversity at the Games.)
With the number of universality tickets being reduced from three per gender at Rio 2016 to two at Tokyo 2020, there was no certainty that Bhutan would continue to receive a free quota.
Qualification was critical. Karma impressed.
Results in the other matches would mean a quarterfinal victory was enough to win the Olympic place. But Karma trailed Malaysia’s Nur Aliya Ghapar, 5-3, after four sets.
Ghapar shot a four in the fifth, allowing the Bhutanese 29-year-old to level the match and force a shoot-off.
Karma delivered the first arrow of the tiebreak, an X10. Ten points, shot fast in gusting wind. It was too good for her Malaysian opponent, who shot a nine. Karma had won.
“I’m really happy with my coach. She gave me the power, energy to compete with others,” she said. Sally Park, the Korean Olympian who coached Malawian archer Areneo David at Rio 2016, is now Bhutan’s head coach.
“Before, I never even used to get two [set] points. So I’m really happy to compete with other archers and I’m really lucky with my coach.”
Archers from India (competing under a neutral flag), Iran, Mongolia and Vietnam also secured Olympic quotas in Bangkok.
Continental events in the Americas, Oceania and Europe will award the next archery quotas for Tokyo 2020.
Asian archers – along with athletes from around the world – can still win places at the final qualification tournament that will be held as part of the Berlin stage of the 2020 Hyundai Archery World Cup next June.
Olympic quotas awarded in Bangkok
The Asian continental championship quota tournament for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games took place on Thursday 28 November 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.