Karatekas face an uphill task

Karatekas face an uphill task

Karatekas face an uphill task

Jul 31, 2018-Disappointing it may sound but considering the poor record and the might of the other participating nations, expecting even a single medal from the Nepali contingent during the 18th Asian Games will itself be a huge ask.

Nepal are set to field a 185-strong players in 29 sports disciplines in Games set for August 18-September 2 in the Indonesian city of Jakarta and Palembang. Remarkable it appear but Nepal has been participating in the Games since its inception in 1951 in India. Nepal have missed out on participation only twice in 1954 (Philippines) and 1962 (Indonesia). Despite the rich history of participation, Nepal have only won a total of 23 medals with the best results of all being a silver.

Taekwondo player Sabita Rajbhandari is the only Nepali player to win a silver medal during the 1998 Games in Bangkok. More tellingly, only three sports disciplines—taekwondo (14), boxing (6) and karate (3)—have been able to fetch medals for Nepal at the Asian meet. Karateka Bimala Tamang saved the Nepali blushes by winning a solitary medal—bronze—during the 17th Asian Game in Incheon, South Korea. She struck the medal in the individual kata on her way to become only the third Nepali karateka to clinch a medal in the Asian Games after Sita Rai in 1994 and Samar Bahadur Gole in 1998.

However, even karate appears to have lost faith in at least repeating the Incheon success given the way its preparations is going. Their planned training in Japan is in limbo for unknown reasons as the players are limited to training between themselves since the closed camp training started three months earlier.

Kumite coach Dipak Shrestha believed eight selected karatekas should have gained precious abroad training already had the National Sports Council (NSC) and Nepal Karate Federation (NKF) kept their promises. Despite getting the visas for Japan, the Nepali team’s departure has not been confirmed yet.

“We are all putting our best efforts in a bid to get better results than the past. Obviously, as a competitor everyone wants to strike a medal,” said Parsuram Bastola, who will participate in the men’s individual kata in Indonesia. Along with Bastola, Chanchala Dunuwar will compete in women’s individual kata. Sonam Lama (60kg), Bijay Lama (67kg) and Diwas Shrestha (below 84kg) are competing in men’s kumite while Anu Adhikari (50kg), Sunita Maharjan (61kg) and Rita Karki (above 68kg) are in fray for the women’s kumite. Hira Singh Dangol is the kata coach.

“We would have a realistic chance to winning medals had we been provided at least three-month training abroad with better sparring partners,” said coach Shrestha, a two-time South Asian Games (SAG) gold medallist. “Our players lack better sparring partners. Kumite players need fighting experience with better opponents but in our case players have been completely deprived of the opportunity since the closed camp started,” added Shrestha. Nepali karatekas had a closed camp training since May 15 to July 16 in Pokhara. They are currently undergoing training at a covered hall in Gothatar due to unavailability of venue at the Dasharath Stadium as it is under renovation.

Bastola also expressed his frustrations over the indifference of sports governing bodies. “They (sport authorities) are least concerned of improving the standard of karatekas but expect medals from them,” said Bastola. Arjun BK, the director of the training department at the NSC, said they are negotiating with Okinawa Training Centre in Japan for training and that things will be sorted out very soon. But with less than a month to the start of the karate events, karatekas can hardly expect better exposure, denting their hopes of success in Indonesia.

Source The Kathmandu Post

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