Twenty three years in the trade, numerous national as well as international bodybuilding titles along the way, and a final feather in the cap recently, this bodybuilder has lived his dream to the brim, as he finally decides to hang his boots on an illustrious bodybuilding passion.
In a Q&A session after winning a gold medal in South Korea recently, the ‘Champ’ as Bhutanese bodybuilder Tandin Wangchen is fondly known, shares a light moment with Business Bhutan.
BB: What does the recent award in South Korea mean to you personally? Am sure it must have evoked a sense of nationalism in you. Please elaborate.
TW: The recent big win ‘Gold Medal’ from 14th World Bodybuilding Championship was one the most remarkable achievements in my life. When I climb on the World Champion winner podium and raise our national flag and sing our national anthem, the love and sense of patriotism for our beloved king, country and people immensely evoked to a greater height.
BB: I am also sure this isn’t your first honor. Please walk me throughout your journey into bodybuilding and accolades on the way.
TW: I am very fortunate and able to win so many medals for the country in different Championships like South Asian Championship (Silver Medal 2011), Asian Championship (Silver Medal 2023, Bronze Medal 2014), World Championship (Gold 2023, Silver 2019) and also Three Mr. Bhutan Titles (2009, 2012, 2013), Mr. Bhutan Runners up Silver Medal (2011, 2014,2017,2019,2022,2023), Strongmen Championship 2017 (Silver Medal), and the most improved bodybuilder of the year title during South Asian Championship (Silver medal)
BB: What and who is your inspiration? What are you trying to achieve or what is your ultimate goal?
TW: Ever since I was a small kid, I was always fascinated by action heroes who had beautiful physique, especially Arnold Schwarzenneger’s well build body and his towering personality. Arnold, from his humble beginnings, was able to win seven Mr. Universe titles, became a famous Hollywood movie star and finally became one of most dynamic Governor in American history. He proved that people with big muscles have brains too. One of the greatest personality and inspiration I always look up to, and try to replicate is His Majesty the Great Fourth Druk Gyalpo. From His leadership, command, speech, dress-up and compassion, I still follow His Majesty religiously to this day.
Every bodybuilder dreams to win Gold and become World Champion. When I started working out, my goal was to improve my basketball jump and build a lean aesthetic physique. But once you see the result, you are never satisfied with the amount of muscle you have put-on. So, the goal is to keep on getting bigger. Then I wanted to compete, I wanted to win Mr. Bhutan. After winning Mr. Bhutan, I planned to win in South Asia, then Asia and ultimately the World Championship. I have achieved my dream of becoming the World Champion at the end after 15 years of competing and 23 years of training. I am now finally retiring from competitive bodybuilding.
BB: What are the different aspects that go with you to the gym everyday which makes you a champion?
TW: To become a champion in any sports, the main tools required are hard work, passion and commitment. Including these factors, the most important is our ‘intention’. Whatever we do, if our intention is pure/good/kind, the end result will be beautiful and successful, no matter how hard the route in between arises.
BB: Like reaching any destination is no mean task, you too must have faced some hurdles on the way a few times. What were those stumbling blocks and how did you manage to maneuver it?
TW: My late mother always said that ‘hard work does not necessarily lead to success but without hard work there is no success at all’. So, during my competitive career I have faced so many struggles like time constraints, injuries, financial struggle, demotivation from haters, domestic and family obligations, etc. We need to have very good support from our spouse. She/he has to sacrifice all domestic works, share family budget, spare more food prep, adjust with mood and anger during the dieting phases. But the main thing is our mind. A strong mind can move mountains. If we set our goals and put in our mind, body and work day in and day out, nothing is impossible. Dreams do come true.
BB: How and why do you think is important to support women fitness of Bhutan just as how you support your spouse?
TW: It is very important to support our women to join the gym and workout with good diet and training routine. Till 2014, we didn’t have any ladies competing in the National as well as international bodybuilding and fitness events. With more ladies joining the gym and working out, we are now able to encourage more women to compete during the National Bodybuilding and Fitness Championship. Till date, around five ladies won the title of Miss Fitness Bhutan. They even competed outside and won medals. My wife won Miss Fitness 2017, World Bronze Medal 2017.
BB: Any final comments to the aspiring bodybuilders?
TW: To the aspiring bodybuilders; there is no shortcut to become a champion or successful in any field. Don’t try to follow the short route and abuse all the strong supplements, PEDS, gaining too much weight, losing too much weight in short time, using diuretics, training insanely heavy, etc. Instead, listen to your body, train smart, eat nutritious meal every 3-4 hours gap, eight hours rest every night, frequent medical checkup and repeat this year after year. The big day will come with grand success and surprise.
Sonam Yuden from Thimphu