10th SA Games: Satisfactory overall

Colombo, August 28 :

Nepal’s overall performance in the 10th South Asian Games was satisfactory except for the stronghold martial arts. Nepali athletes created history in some events, while they were more than happy to get unexpected results in few events.

Rajendra Bhandari made history winning two gold medals in athletics and set the SA Games record in 5,000m, while Kamal Bahadur Adhikari became the first ever gold medallist in weight lifting. Deepak Bista completed his hat-trick haul of gold in taekwondo, while Kanchhi Maya Koju ended up as the surprise silver medallist in 10,000m.

Shuttler Sumina Shrestha entered the fray winning an individual bronze. Another surprise package was women’s volleyball team that beat Maldives in the third-place match. Archery, Shooting, Kabaddi and Cycling were the events which returned empty handed.

The 10th edition of the regional competition was also successful for Nepal in terms of total medals earned abroad. Nepal won a record of 55 medals — 9 gold, 15 silver and 31 bronze. The previous best was the fourth SAF Games in Karachi (1989) when the Nepal won 46 medals — one gold, 13 silver and 32 bronze.

The event was also successful in terms of gold medals won abroad. Nepal claimed nine gold in Colombo, beating the previous record of seven in the ninth SAF Games in Islamabad two years ago.

Martial Arts — which was regarded as the back bone of Nepal’s bid to finish third in the 10th edition — suffered a major setback. Nepal won just two gold each in Taekwondo, Karate and Wushu, while the expectation in these three events was more than 15 gold medals in a total of 40 categories.

Judo failed to earn any gold. Out of the total 50 events in martial arts, Nepal won 6 gold, 11 silver and 16 bronze medals.

The tournament was a nightmare for taekwondo ace Sangina Biadya and karateka Deepak Shrestha — who along with Deepak Bista were bidding for the hat-trick of gold medals. Sangina was restricted to the bronze after she became the victim of poor judgement in the second round bout against lowly Afghanistani opponent, while Deepak was unlucky to draw a host nation’s opponent in the first round.

Football gave another shock to Nepal when they lost to Pakistan in the semi-finals. They won bronze beating India 2-0.

In all, the tour was a mixed bag for Nepal as they finished fourth overall. As in the previous nine editions, South Asian powerhouse India finished first, while Pakistan and hosts Sri Lanka came second and third.

Afghanistan made their presence felt finishing behind Nepal in only their second participation. They won 29 medals — 6 gold, 7 silver and 16 bronze — and finished fifth.

Bangladesh — who will host the 11th edition in Dhaka two years later — won three gold, 15 silver and 34 bronze medals, while Bhutan earned three silver and 10 bronze. Maldives was the only team that failed to open its account.