She has a number of ‘firsts’ attached to her name. She was the first Nepali to qualify for the Olympic games. She was also the first Nepali to qualify for the Asian games.
“These historic moments in Nepalis sports are my proudest moments,” says Sangina Baidya, who has achieved what no other Nepali has in the sports arena. She is a name to reckon with and has made the country proud.
While the past generation saw a ray of hope in her, she is an unwavering tower of inspiration for future generations.
“My biggest dream was to play in the Olympics and it got fulfiled,” she says adding, “You should have a target, an aim in life and be devoted to achieve it. Anything is possible.”
Hard work pays
She believes her relentless effort, her guru’s support, staying in discipline and hard work has helped her come so far.
“One should not think about what the country has given me, but what I can give this country,” says this sports personality. “I think I have given back to the country what they have invested in me,” she adds.
Elaborating on the national sports scenario she says, “Compared to foreign countries, we have nothing. But according to Nepali standards, we should be satisfied with what the government has provided.”
However, she feels that if she had been in a foreign country, she would have received much more for her achievements.
Baidya was born in Trishuli, Nuwakot to Achuta Nanda and Nirmala Baidya. She was interested in sports from her early childhood days and was a huge fan of Bruce Lee. But it was only after she came to Kathmandu for her intermediate studies and joined the Public Youth Campus that she got involved in taekwondo.
“In the beginning it was only a hobby. I learnt it for self defence. But when I became the first Nepali to participate in the Asian championships, I decided to take it up professionally with the aim to play in the Olympics,” she says.
With a record of 28 gold medals, one silver and three bronze medals, Baidya has certainly set the standards of Nepali taekwondo very high. She has always won a gold medal in the national level tournaments that she has participated in.
Nothing has deterred her from realising her dreams.
She was preparing herself and anxiously waiting for the Asian championships in 1999, when she was unfortunately broke a leg in a bike accident. Her condition was pretty bad and thoughts about if she could never play again haunted her. Gradually with treatment and her doctor’s encouraging words, things started to look up. Although she had to start from zero, she was willing to take up the challenge. She even had to learn to walk again. Not the one to give up easily, she was ready to participate in the championships in nine months.
Baidya participated in the games with a steel plate in her legs. And despite these odds, she focused on her game and brought home a gold medal.
“That was a very memorable game for me,” she recalls.
Presently working as an taekwondo instructor at the National Sports Council, Baidya has come a long way in the 14 years she has dedicated to taekwondo.
Her commanding voice and strict demeanour make her look like a really stern teacher. Her students listen to her attentively. Yet when one of her old students starts chatting, she is a totally different person: she is not just a coach but a friend as well.
Of the present generation she feels that they are not putting in their best.
“I think today’s generation wants everything in a short span. We worked very hard and were able to attain what we have, but I think today’s players are more saukhin,” she opines.
Baidya feels things have changed. While in the past, this game was considered more as a hobby especially for women, she feels, “You can take it as a profession too. But one must be determined, and have an earnest sincerity towards the game.”
And when she is not doing taekwondo, you can find Baidya on her bike going on long distance rides because that’s what she loves doing. Music is her other passion and she enjoys spending time with friends.