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A skate park in Thimphu

In memory of a lost son

Although not a popular sports in the country, Thimยญphu got its first skate park earlier this week.

The park at Babena, Jungshina was opened to public on November 20. Edยญucation minister Jai Bir Rai inaugurated the park.

The park was built with financial support from an American family who spent US$98,000 for the construcยญtion of the park. It was built in the memory of Johnny Strange, their son, who died at the age of 23 in a wing suit flying accident in Switzerยญland. Johnny Strange was the youngest to climb all the seven peaks before he atยญtended the age of 17.

He first visited Bhutan in 2011 to climb the highest mountain in Bhutan, Gangยญkar Puensum 7,570 meters peak. At the inauguration ceremony, Johnnyโ€™s famยญily and his best friend Tom Schaar, a professional skater took part. The Element and Vans companies from Caliยญfornia provided free skateยญboard to the participants.

The park, approximately 650sqm constructed on a 6.5 acres of land provided by the Thimphu Thromde. Although the park was to complete in four months, due to the deยญlay in supply of construction materials, it took almost sevยญen months. โ€œWe even have plans to build other recreยญational like basketball court, football ground, volleyball ground, table tennis and cycling,โ€ said Sonam Kinga Tshering, Secretary General of Bhutan Olympic Commitยญtee (BOC)

The skateboard is deยญsigned by Hardcore Skateยญpark Company ย based in California. It is designed in such a way that it portrays the Eight peaks โ€œSeven peaks represent seven continentโ€™s peak that Johnny climbed and the eighth peak signifies Gangยญkar Puensum which reยญmained unclimbed,โ€ Sonam Kinga Tshering said.

Apart from a few children playing on roadsides, skateยญboarding is not popular in Bhutan. However with the construction of the Skateยญboard Park, many children are showing interest in it. Pema Lethro, 24, one of the participants on the inauguยญral day said, โ€œAlthough I am interested in skateboarding, I cannot go daily due to the distance. I am planning to visit during weekends.โ€

Another skateboard enยญthusiasts Phuntsho Wangdi said, โ€œIt was tough for me to get balance in the beginยญning, but I have improved.โ€ โ€œI feel blessed as it is the part of Olympic game and it is another platform where we youth can engaged our time fruitfully,โ€ he said.

Bhutan Olympic Comยญmittee plans to add tradiยญtional paintings at the park to give a Bhutanese touch to the American sport.


By Pema Choden


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