Kathmandu, August 21:

Nepali taekwondo star Deepak Bista is gearing up to fight against a tough opponent, Saei Hadi of Iran in the welterweight category first-round bout at the Beijing Olympic Games on Thursday.

“The physical training is over and now I am preparing myself mentally for the match,” Bista told The Himalayan Times in a telephonic conversation from Olympic Village in Beijing. “I will play with full confidence and try my best,” said Bista.

Asked about the game plan against the Athens Olympics gold medallist and Sydney Olympics bronze winner, Bista said he would initially adopt defensive strategy. “He (Hadi) is an aggressive player and there is no point going offensive against such a player. I will follow the instruction of my coach (Kwon Hyouk Joung) as we might have to change the strategy after each round,” said Bista, the three-time South Asian Games gold medallist and two-time Asian Games silver medallist.

Bista, however, added that he might switch to offensive play if the situation demands him to do so. “Hadi is a class player. But that does not mean I have to worry about the bout. Anyone can beat anyone in taekwondo and I am also capable of beating anyone,” said Bista. “My coach has asked me to play my natural game and use the tactics I have learnt during the training,” he said.

Bista, only the second player in Nepal’s sports history to qualify for the Olympics after Sangina

Baidya, also a taekwondo player, was confident of winning a medal for the country. “The country and the people have expected a lot from me as I have won many medals in the past and I will try my best not to let them down,” he said. “I will play confidently and if the luck is on my part tomorrow, I will win a medal for the country,” he said.