The Event: Tibetan Olympics grand finale, 25 May 2008
The winners of the Women's Championships
The winners of the Men's Championships
Four Miss Tibets with banner
Dolma Tsering and Tsering Chungtak singing in the opening ceremony
Dorji Tsering coming first in the 80-metres dash
Dolkar Tso during high-jump practise
Dorji Tsering diving during the swimming competition
Participants doing yoga
Director Lobsang Wangyal with assistant Catherine Schuetze
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 8 June 2008 — The Tibetan Olympics 2008 closed with a huge day at the Tibetan Children's Village (TCV) grounds. The weather threatened to break several times but heartfelt prayers seemed to keep the rain away until the conclusion of the day's activities. Heavy rain overnight made the track wet and the field lanes had to be re-chalked in the early morning. This delayed the start by about half an hour, but soon the opening ceremony was underway as planned.
Led by the Tibetan Flag bearer, the TCV marching band followed onto the tracks. The Tibetan Olympics banner came next, which was carried by four Miss Tibets — Tenzin Dolma (2007), Tsering Chungtak (2006), Tsering Kyi (2003), and Dolma Tsering (2002). The Women's and Men's teams of the Tibetan Olympics proudly followed the banner. Thousands of enthusiastic spectators cheered the athletes. Mr Silver Meikar, Member of Parliment from Estonia, officially announced the opening of the Olympics.
The Tibetan Olympics torch entered the field, carried by the male and female long-distance running champions. After a lap of the track, the torch was used to light the large Tibetan Olympics torch that dominated the field for the day. The torch had travelled through five continents in the last 5 months, from Delhi to Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, Hawaii, San Francisco, New York City, Rio de Janeiro, London, Cape Town, Tel Aviv and now in Dharamshala.
Dawa Dakpa, the most senior athlete and a physical training instructor at Suja School, Bir, took the oath of sportsmanship of the Tibetan Olympics on behalf of the athletes.
The Director Lobsang Wangyal made a speech describing how the Tibetan Olympics was conveived and the purpose, the difficulties in producing the event and a few words for the students on health and preserving Tibetan language and culture.
A Tibetan Olympics anthem was written and performed by local group — R59. Miss Tibets 2002 and 2006 performed a pop single from their debut album, much to the delight of the audience. Thoughout the day, the Miss Tibets were in great demand amongst the children, sometimes being crushed behind the press of 8-year-olds wanting an autograph.
Shihan Hussaini (archery instructor) from Chennai took the athletes though a drill and warm-up. Mr Hussaini was so impressed by the athletes and the Tibetan Olympics, that he delayed his return home and put off all his work to stay with the athletes thoughout the events until the end.
Finally came the main events. Track and field were the events these young athletes excel at and had been eagerly awaiting to show off their skill and speed. The events were in this order: Round 5: 80 metres hurdles; Round 6: 80 metres dash; Round 7: Long jump; Round 8: High jump; Round 9: Javelin throw; Round 10: 400 metres dash.
Highlights included the exciting jump-off for the men's High Jump championship. Dawa Dakpa had been saying all week he wanted to set a new Tibetan record for high jump but after competing in several events and winning the day before, his jump (5'4") was just short of the record as he was quite tired by then.
The 80m and 400m races were certainly very exciting. The sprinters were very fast, sometimes running over the media who were not expecting them at the end of the tracks.
A fun relay race was held following the rounds with 6 teams competing in a 200m relay. There was the Tibetan Olympics team, the Foreign Journalists team and four teams from TCV school. The Olympics team had just finished 6 rounds of track and field and were quite exhausted — especially as the relay followed the 400m race. The Foreign Journalists held their place in the relay well but it was the TCV team who took the race, coming first and winning a small cash prize much to the delight of the assembled TCV students.
After an exhausting and slightly delayed end to the athletics, the medal presentation was underway. There was no doubt in the minds of the assembled crowd who was going to win the Men's Gold Medal — Dorji Tsering. Tsering Lhamo, a student from TCV School Gopalpur, was the Women's Gold Medalist. They both were certainly the star athletes of the day, dominating most of the track and field events.
Mr Silver Meikar presented the Gold Medals, Mrs Aasha Reddy presented the Silver Medals and Mr Kalsang Dhondup, Chairman of the Tibetan National Sports Association, presented the bronze medals.
A celebratory lunch was offered to all athletes, guests, staff and media after everything was finished. A big vote of thanks is offered to the TCV students, parents and staff for assisting with the day and running the grand finale.
That evening a rock concert was held at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA). Local artiste Boom Boom beautifully sang 'Imagine'. Dharma Bums played to the usual enthusiastic crowd. R59 gave an enthusiastic performance, including their rendition of the Tibetan Olympics Anthem. The Estonian band, Flowers of Romance, were the stars of the evening. The group travelled all the way from Estonia to appear at the Tibetan Olympics, and played a version of the Tibetan Olympics Anthem they had composed. There was no doubted about their popularity in Estonia by the way they rocked the night away in Mcleod Ganj. A large crowd enjoyed their songs, dancing till the very last one. We thank all the supporters from Estonia for coming and helping to make the Olympics a success.
Report by Catherine Schuetze.