For more than 18 months, Yuki Fukui has pushed his pupils to their limits on the judo mats — three of his male judoka are the first ever to represent Bhutan in the sport at the recent Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

And although none of the three athletes returned to Bhutan with a medal, Fukui says the experience of taking on the best judo fighters on the continent at such a high-profile event has instilled new confidence in his pupils and simultaneously helped to put judo on the map in Bhutan.

Fukui, the national judo coach for this tiny, landlocked nation sandwiched between China and India, has so much belief that his pupils are ready to make their mark on the international judo stage that he is hoping to extend his contract through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to stay on as their coach for at least another year.