Torchbearer of Nepali sports
According to the May 2, 2011 issue of ESPN, Nepali athletes are the most poorly paid ones in the world. No wonder sportspeople’s interest in their profession peters out even before they reach their prime. Even among such difficulties, Deepak Bista, true to his name, is the glowing idol of Nepali sports. Taekwondo practitioner Bista was the flagbearer for Nepal at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics held on August 8, 2008. He won the bronze medal in the welterweight category (under 78 kg) at the 2006 Asian Games, and competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Born in a remote village in the far western region, Deepak rebelled even against his own parents to continue his affiliation with his first love, sports. Abandoning his initial tryst with volleyball, he decided to focus on the one-person show of taekwondo. He even admits to stealing Rs 300 from his uncle to join the Dhangadi Dojang to practice the sport.
Success came his way barely two months later, when he won a gold at the regional games. It was something unheard of — a yellow belt holder defeating a black belt holder. This took him to the National games, where he won a gold medal again. Bista never had to look back again, as he has never lost in formal combat within Nepal, and is only the second Nepali athlete to have qualified for the Olympics.
After winning gold medal in 1999 SAF games held in Kathmandu, Deepak bagged the gold in Pakistan despite fracturing his leg. The 2002 Asian Games held in Busan, South Korea added white feathers to his list. Bista won the Bronze medal at the Doha Asian Games in 2006, and became the first Nepali player to win a medal for the second time in Asian games.
It will gladden sports lovers to know that Bista is also the first Nepali player to be honoured with a cash prize of Rs 2.3 million at a single event. Bista was handed the prize by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal at a programme organised by the government to honour medal winning players at the 11th South Asian Games (SAG), Dhaka.
Out of the total money, Rs 1 million was awarded to him for his historical achievement of winning four back-to-back gold medals at the SAG; Rs 300,000 for the gold medal in the 11th SAG and the remaining Rs 1 million for the treatment of the leg he injured during the 11th SAG.