Kathmandu, June 25
Cricket and football dominated the Pulsar Sports Award nominations as Nepal Sports Journalists Forum today announced the players picked up in four categories.
Out of the 20 nominees, half were from cricket and football with six coming from the former. The NSJF has already announced five nominees in People’s Choice category with one player each from cricket, football, volleyball, badminton and bodybuilding.
Cricket became the lone sport that made it to all five categories.
Cricketers Paras Khadka and Sompal Kami earned the nominations for their outstanding performance in the maiden One Day International and T20 International series win over the UAE. While skipper Khadka led from the front and also scored Nepal’s maiden ODI century, while Kami became the first Nepali cricketer to take a five-wicket haul in ODIs.
They are nominated along with Yukesh Gurung (paragliding), Indra Bahadur Shrestha (judo) and Sukra Bahadur Rai (golf).
Gurung was the member of the paragliding team that won historic silver medal in the Asian Games, while judoka Shrestha bagged gold medals in the South Asian Judo Championship on home soil and University Judo Championship in Thailand.
Likewise, amateur golfer Rai edged past No 1 pro Shivaram Shrestha to win the Surya Nepal Eastern Open and bagged three amateur titles under Surya Nepal Golf Tour. Rai teamed up with Tanka Bahadur Karki to win team event gold medal in Bangladesh Amateur Open and also qualified for the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final after winning the U-21 category in the Faldo Series Nepal Championship.
In women’s section, football sensation Sabitra Bhandari and star volleyball player Saraswoti Chaudhary are in race with cricketer Sita Rana Magar, taekwondo player Nima Gurung and judoka Manita Shrestha Pradhan.
Bhandari played important roles in national team’s runners-up finishes in Hero Gold Cup in India and SAFF Championship in Biratnagar. She scored a brace in Nepal’s historic 2-1 victory over India in the Hero Gold Cup and was also the joint highest scorer in SAFF Championship.
Bhandari was the best player and highest scorer in Women’s League.
Spiker Chaudhary became the best player in nine of the 10 tournaments won by Nepal APF Club in their 11 appearances, while cricketer Rana Magar was the highest scorer among Nepali players and fourth overall in Women’s T20 Smash in Thailand.
She grabbed eight wickets and scored 77 runs in ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Asia Region Qualifiers, also in Thailand.
Gurung bagged individual and team event silver medals in University Taekwondo Championship and finished second in International Taekwondo Championship, in South Korea.
Likewise, judoka Shrestha Pradhan bagged gold in University Judo Championship in Thailand and grabbed individual and team event silver medals in SA Judo Championship.
Young athletics sensation Ajit Kumar Yadav, rising shuttler Prince Dahal, footballer Manjali Kumari Yonjan, cricketer Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi and karateka Bijay Shrestha are in the race of youth section.
Yadav stole the limelight when he won Nepal’s maiden gold in the third Asian Youth Athletics Championship with the record timing of eight minutes and 32 seconds in 3,000m race. Yadav also shined in domestic events winning 3,000m and 1,500m gold medals in President Running Shield apart from 5km race under Kathmandu Marathon, 8km in Bandipur Road Race and 5km in Madan Bhandari Road Race.
Dahal is another strong contender in youth category.
He is the first Nepali shuttler to win U-15 section gold medal in Dubai Junior International Series. Dahal then won gold medals in U-15 and U-19 categories of the President’s Cup Junior International Badminton Series and finished second in U-21 doubles of the South Asian Regional Championship.
Footballer Yonjan is the member of the national women’s team that finished second in the Hero Gold Cup and Women’s SAFF Championship apart from advancing to the second round of Olympic Qualifiers for the first time. Karateka Shrestha claimed the 55kg section gold medal in the 15th Asia pacific Shitoryu Karate Championship in Indonesia and bagged bronze in the ninth International Shitoryu Karate Championship in Tokyo.
Cricketer Rajbanshi grabbed 11 wickets in ICC T20 World Cup Asian Regional Qualifiers ‘B’ and snared three wickets against Malaysia in the ACC Asia Cup Qualifiers.
The left-handed spinner also took two wickets in the third and final match of the T20I series against the UAE, while he pocketed six wickets in the PM Cup One Day Cricket Tournament.
In coach category, Yogesh Bhattarai (paragliding), Hari Khadka (football), Dhaniram Chaudhary (athletics), Jagat Tamatta (cricket) and Gyanendra Bista (volleyball) have been nominated. Bhattarai led the paragliding team to historic silver medal finish in Indonesia, while Khadka is the coach of the women’s national football team that finished runners-up in two tournaments and earned second round berth in Olympic Qualifiers.
Likewise, Chaudhary was the coach of athletes Ajit Kumar Yadav, Som Bahadur Kumal ad Saraswoti Bhattarai who left their mark in international arena.
Likewise, Tamatta was the coach of the national cricket team that won maiden ODI and T20I series against the UAE and drew 1-1 against Netherlands in the first-ever T20I series. He also led the national team to victory in the ICC T20 World Cup Asian Regional Qualifiers ‘B’. APF volleyball coach Bista guided the team to 10 titles in 11 tournaments and won best coach award in eight events.
The 16th edition of the Pulsar Sports Award, organised by NSJF in association with Action Sports and powered by Gold Star, features 10 categories and the winners of male, female, coach and people’s choice will receive Pulsar NS160 motorcycle each.
The youth, para-athlete, special, lifetime achievement, team of the year and Asian journalist winners will get Rs 50,000 apiece. The winners and nominees will get Dish Home Set Top Box and gift hampers from Kelme Nepal, while the men and women sections winners will get open-destination two-way tickets from Turkish Airlines. The Award is slated for July 2 at Nepal Academy.
A version of this article appears in print on June 26, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.