Two of Bhutan's top judokas, Tandin Wangchuk and Kinley Tshering, have been continuing their training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by learning the Japanese language.
Hoping to qualify for the re-arranged Games in 2021, the pair currently study on scholarships at Seisa Dohto University in Kitahiroshima, in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido.
Having trained and lived in Japan for a year, the childhood friends are integrating into Japanese life beyond judo as reported by Nikkan Sports.
Wangchuk, a bronze medallist in the 73 kilograms category at the South Asian Games in Nepal last year, said that he had learned how to sing a song in Japanese, while Tshering, who also won bronze in the 66kg competition, spoke about his Olympic dreams.
Tshering said: "I wanted to come to Japan to train and learn judo.
"There are only a few people in Bhutan who are involved in the sport and our dream is to participate in the Olympics.
"Our ambition is to spread judo back home in Bhutan."
3 out of 3! Bhutan Judo Association won medals! World's Smallest Organization made a history! 😁 pic.twitter.com/x8TSyk7ehB— Rie K. Dorji-片山理絵 (@RieDorji) December 8, 2019
Eri Sato, of the Seisa Dohto University International Exchange Centre, praised the pair for their commitment to their sport and for integrating into the nation's culture.
"Both of them are very serious and have a very good class attitude," Sato said.
"Their conversation skills have improved and you can see growth visibly.
"Both of them now talk in Japanese with their team-mates."
The Seisa Group accepts athletes from developing countries, with students hailing from Myanmar and Eritrea also part of the programme.
Tshering and Wangchuk currently sit 286th and 299th in the International Judo Federation world rankings, respectively.