Bista makes tearful exit

Kathmandu, August 18:

Nepal’s taekwondo star Deepak Bista failed to make his mark at the Beijing Olympics after he lost the welterweight category first-round bout 0-7 to Iranian Hadi Saei with 40 seconds remaining.

Bista earned a chance to play for the bronze medal after Hadi entered the final, but he went down 2-6 to China’s Guo Zhu. The loss not only ended Bista’s dream of winning the Olympic medal, but also disappointed the people back home who were expecting the first-ever Olympic medal from him.

“I am sorry for the country and the people as I could not justify their expectations,” said Bista. “Every player has a day and it was not my day today,” said Bista, the three-time South Asian Games gold medallist and two-time Asian Games bronze medallist, after making the tearful exit from his first, and most probably the last, Olympic Games.

In the first match, Bista seemed clueless as the Iranian earned points with ease in the last two rounds. The first round ended 1-0 and the Iranian took full advantage of Bista’s errors in the next two rounds. Bista opted the offensive strategy and the Iranian earned most points in counter attacks. The six-minute match was over with 40 seconds remaining after the Iranian player took a seven-point lead.

Hadi is the same player who defeated Bista in the semi-finals of the WTF Asian Qualifying Tournament for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, in Vietnam last year. Bista bagged bronze to qualify for the Olympics and became the only second Nepali player to qualify for the Olympics after Sangina Baidya (2002 Athens).

In the repechage, Bista lost to China’s Zhu, who defeated Miguel Ferrera Rodriguez of Honduras in the first match and lost to Hadi in the quarter-finals. Hadi beat European bronze medallist Mauro Sarmiento of Italy 6-4 to lift the second Olympic gold medal of his career. Hadi, who won the -68kg gold in Athens, battled back from 4-2 down in the first round against Sarmiento, who upset defending champion Steven Lopez of the US in the quarter-finals. The bronze medals went to Lopez and Guo.

Arjun Kumar Basnet is the only Nepali player remaining to play in the Beijing Games. Basnet will run in marathon slated for Sunday.