Shop Fantasy Central Golf Guide Email Travel Subscribe SI About Us Olympics Archery

U.S. Home Sydney 2000 Home Basketball Boxing Cycling Diving Gymnastics Soccer Swimming Tennis Track & Field Volleyball More Sports Schedules Results Medal Tracker Medal History Athletes About Australia Multimedia Central World Home World Europe Home World Asia Home CNN Europe CNN Home Home

 Sportsman of the Year
 Heisman Trophy
 Swimsuit 2001

 Fantasy Central
 Inside Game
 Multimedia Central
 Your Turn
 Message Boards
 Email Newsletters
 Golf Guide
 Work in Sports GROUP
 Sports Illustrated
 Life of Reilly
 SI Women
 SI for Kids
 Press Room
 TBS/TNT Sports
 CNN Languages

 SI Customer Service
 SI Media Kits
 Get into College
 Sports Memorabilia

Shoot to thrill

Archers carry Bhutan's Olympic hopes

Click here for more on this story
Latest: Tuesday September 19, 2000 04:28 AM


SYDNEY, Australia -- In the neighborhood of nations, Bhutan is a latecomer to the block party. Accessible only on horseback or by foot as recently as the 1960s, not admitted to the United Nations until the 1970s, and without TV until fewer than two years ago, the Himalayan mountain kingdom didn't show up at an Olympics until 1984. That year, and every Games since, Bhutan has sent only one kind of athlete to the world's greatest carnival of sport.

Archery is Bhutan's national pastime. But Olympic archery scarcely resembles the sport that the country's two Olympians, Tshering Chhoden and Jubzhang, practice back home. A Bhutanese archery competition might go on for four days. Bows aren't factory-made from fiberglass, but hand-carved of bamboo, with bowstring fashioned from the tissal plant. Arrows have feathers but, says team manager Karma Dorji, "only pheasant and eagle feathers shed and found in the forest, because in Bhutan we mustn't kill." (It's a Buddhist country where every living thing is sacred.) Archers take aim from 145 meters away, far beyond the Olympic distances of 90 meters for men and 60 for women. In the three annual national tournaments, says Dorji, "we do not allow sights or stabilizers or trigger releases, to preserve our culture."

From Sports Illustrated
• SI Images: Photos from the Games
• Tim Layden: Injury forces Miller out of 100
• E.M. Swift: Gymnastics' balance (beam) of power has shifted
• Brian Cazeneuve: Dream Team missing some big names | Raising the bar
• Richard Hoffer: Boxer hopes to triumph through devastating losses
• Phil Taylor: We should embrace Dream Team dominance
• Grant Wahl: U.S. men's soccer teams making headway
• Michael Farber: Aussie teams all have unique aliases
• Alex Wolff: Archers carry Bhutan's Olympic hopes
• SI for Women's Kelli Anderson: Aussie pool party
• Medal Picks: SI's Predictions

More Features
• Day at a Glance: Out of position
• Wake-up Call: Tracking the day
• Viewers' Guide: What to watch for
• Statitudes: By The Numbers
• Quiz: Today's tester

• Gary Hall Diary: All about recovery
• Fashion Report: Miki Barber -- You can tell Americans a mile away
• Athlete Bios: U.S. Rosters

• Photo Gallery: Shots of the Day
• Photo Gallery: Women's Gymnastics Finals
• Multimedia Central: Photo Galleries, Video and More

Most distinctively, archers in the Dragon Kingdom are expected to participate in elaborately choreographed dancing, drinking and even trash-talking, both to boost teammates' morale and throw a rival off. Each team even has a squad of young women in kira, the traditional dress, who wave scarves at arrows as they whiz their way toward the target, trying to alter their path. "There is teasing, there is singing," Dorji says. "You try to bring down your opponent's morale and concentration."

Both of Bhutan's shooters here have won events on the Asian circuit, but the country has never made its mark on the Olympics. "Our archers are here to do their best," Dorji says. "We expect them to shoot without any nervousness, at the same level as they do at home. We believe in skill, yes, but also in the luck that favors you on a particular day."

Would the Bhutanese prosper if the Olympics adopted the boisterous Himalayan style of archery, which dates back centuries, to a time when the Bhutanese had to defend their valleys from invaders? "I think so!" Dorji says. "We'd have a few tricks up our sleeve!" But for now, Olympic archery is disputed in the usual staid fashion, and Bhutanese sleeves turned up empty. Chhoden, 20, lost to Hamdiah of Indonesia in the first round of the women's competition on Sunday at the

Archery Park in Homebush Bay. Jubzhang -- like soccer players in Brazil, a lot of archers don't seem to need second names -- had more experience than Chhoden; he was shooting in his third Olympics. But he bowed out in his opening match, too, losing to Belgium's Nico Hendrickx.

It wasn't even 10 a.m. on Day 3 of the Olympics, and citizens of Bhutan were already left looking ahead to Athens. Nonetheless, for the first time ever, the country's half million people had been able to follow their Olympians on TV.

Sports Illustrated senior writer Alexander Wolff is in Sydney covering the Games for the magazine and Check back daily to read Wolff's behind-the-scenes reports from Down Under.

Related information
Sports Illustrated at the Olympics Archive
Visit Multimedia Central for the latest audio and video
Search our site Watch CNN/SI 24 hours a day
Sports Illustrated and CNN have combined to form a 24 hour sports news and information channel. To receive CNN/SI at your home call your cable operator or DirecTV.

CNNSI Copyright © 2001
CNN/Sports Illustrated
An AOL Time Warner Company.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.