Young Bhutanese gymnast hopes to get an Olympic Medal for Bhutan

Zelden 1st in the front row(first left) with her team and coach at one of the NYC state level meet
Zelden 1st in the front row(first left) with her team and coach at one of the NYC state level meet

Born to a Bhutanese mother and a Danish father, Zelden has excelled as a gymnast in the United States of America (USA).

Zelden and her parents dream is that she would one day represent Bhutan as the first ever Gymnast at the summer Olympics.

While Drak-Tsho special athletes, body builders, cricketers and karate kids have been doing the country proud, by bringing home gold and silver accolades, eight year old Zelden Marie Hart-Hansen is a champion of another kind and the first of her kind for Bhutan.

Zelden is already showing potential for the Olympics getting a bronze medal at the competitive Athletic Edge Gymnastics Meet in Staten Island, New York on 19 January, 2013. The Gymnastic meet was a state level event of New York which is considered to have some of the best Gymnasts in the USA. The USA itself is a world power when it comes to gymnastics in the Olympics.

She was also ranked 11th at one of the biggest state level competitions, at New York State Cup Invitational Gymnastics Meet in Cortland, on 3 February, 2013.

Zelden at the tender age of eight has also been selected for Elite Team Gymnastics, Level 4, in September 2012. She Represents AG Wave, Asphalt Green Sports Club in New York City, USA.

She practices 8 hours a week and faces competitions every weekend between January to June.

Zelden is a third grader at the United Nations International School (UNIS) in New York.  Meanwhile, Zelden’s brother Mepham Yugyel Hart Hansen 10, a fan of Liverpool football club plays as a striker for Roosevelt Island Soccer Club in New York.

In the women’s gymnastics which has four events, namely: the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercises, Zelden, on an average scored five to eight points in all four events at all the competitions this year.

In the vault events, gymnasts sprint to a springboard, where they use a vault to push up into the air to twist and flip. On the uneven bars, girls use momentum to swing, flip, turn over the bars and jump between the bars that are at different heights. The balance beam is only 4 inches wide, but gymnasts dance, tumble and jump during this event.

The final event, the floor event is a combination of powerful tumbles in the air combined with dance moves to the rhythm of music.

Gymnastics is unique because it is a year-round sport. Although there is not a set season like there is in football or basketball, the most notorious competition for gymnastics takes place every four years during the Summer Olympics.

Bhutan hasn’t seen a single gymnastics champion or a gymnast in the world Olympics till date. Zelden’s participation will be possible when she is 16 years old which is eight years from now.

The first Summer Olympics that Bhutan participated in was the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. For each Summer Olympic Games from then until 2008, Bhutan was only represented by archers.

The first non-archer to compete for Bhutan was Kunzang Choden in the 2012 Olympics at London. She competed in the women’s 10m air-rifle event.

Bhutan has never won an Olympic Medal. Zelden’s performance in one of the biggest cities in the USA shows that Bhutanese children can do well in sports given the right platform.

Zelden’s idol is American artistic gymnast Shawn Machel Johnson who was the 2008 Olympic balance beam gold medalist.

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13 comments

  1. Thanks Minjur for writing this article about our daughter’s aspiration and passion for gymnastics! It means a lot to her and us. Kadinche and Losar Tashi Delek!

  2. Its a known fact that given a platform, anyone can excel well, but the question is where is the platform and facilities. Little money that country has, are corrupted by rulers for their own good. We even dont have proper tennis court in every dzongkhags, etc

  3. How come a girl born to Bhutanese mother and  a Foreign (Danish) father got Bhutanese citizenship so quickly and easily while hundreds of people in the south under similar situation are still stateless? Isnt this a shear case of corruption? I thought the law  under the kingdom was equal. Please comment.

  4. She is not Bhutanese, cant be Bhutanese as her father is Danish. Before you write, make sure  that the story is Bhutanese. Goodluck

    • Mr. “Gurung”
      That is a completely irrational claim. If Bhutanese blood runs in her veins, then she has every right to consider herself Bhutanese.

      • I Bhutanese by Birth

        hello DrukNYC!! 
        If Barun’s calim is irrational then provide Bhutanese citizenship to  those people within Bhutan born from Bhutanese father and Bhutanese mother.There are so many.your claim is damm irrational

  5. @ critical, Barun and Ngagi druk, stop polluting an article on hope and joy by your lousy propaganda… you are doing humanity and the little talented girl no good… !!!

  6. I mean Barun and Ngagidruk, sorry critical…

  7. Good luck Zelden!!!….Very nice and inspiring to see your story.You can be inspirational for Bhutanese kids living abroad as back home the kids are not privileged to get such platform.Work hard ,do good and make us proud…..@Barun and Ngai druk:Zelden is a Bhutanese and people in the south without citizenship are ngolops!!!!

  8. I agree with ngagidruk and barun gurung. the law of bhutan states that anyone married to foreigner can not  be bhutanese..  On one hand people are made stateless on flimsy pretext and on other declared citizen even when the parents are non-bhutanese.. seems rules are applied individually and citizenship secured on colour of skin. 
    Zelden seems to be talented and she should represent Denmark  ( or US if she was born there) and bhutan cannot make claims to her. 
    The only good part is that the moment  she is declared bhutanese .. the floodgate to claim citizenship will pour in .. which will be good for many who have been married to indians, nepalis, or other westerners.  
    all should watch this closely and support Zelden in her Olympic quest. 

  9. I Bhutanese by Birth

    Zaii!!! how can she be Bhutanese????can any one code the line in Bhutanese constitution that confirms she could be a Bhutanese citizen?if so how dare so many Bhutanese, their within Bhutan, are said non Bhutanese being born from Bhutanese father and Bhutanese mother? If any body shows some talent in international level then only you want he/she be Bhutanese?what sort of claim is this?i am completely in agreement with “ngagidruk” and “Barun Gurung”.

  10. hi

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