Golden Girl Gaurika

Kathmandu, December 8

Swimming sensation Gaurika Singh created history in the 13th South Asian Games when she became the first Nepali athlete to win three gold medals in a single meet here at the International Sports Complex pool.

The 17-year-old won the 400m freestyle gold medal to take her tally to three gold medals in four days. Singh won the event in four minutes and 25.28 seconds, finishing ahead of Indian swimmer Shivangi Sarma (4:26.22). Sri Lanka’s Ramudi Nulara Samarakoon finished third in 4:41.91.

“I am extremely happy and feeling strange at the same time,” said Gaurika, the youngest athlete to take part in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. “I was amazed when I won the first gold medal and the feeling is exactly the same today also,” said Gaurika. “I came to know about the record of three gold medals only after winning the third one today. And I am glad to achieve the feat as a woman athlete,” she added. “I would like to dedicate the first gold medal to the nation, the second one to my charity Maiti Nepal, and third to my grandfather (Lok Bhakta Rana) as a birthday gift,” said the champion, who will compete in the 200m individual medley event apart from two relays tomorrow. “I’ll be vying for another gold tomorrow.”

She is the third Nepali athlete to have won three gold medals, legendary marathon runner Baikuntha Manandhar and taekwondo player Ayasha Shakya being the other two. Manandhar won gold medals in the first three editions

of the SAF Games, while Shakya won two in the ongoing meet to add to her gold won in the 11th SA Games held in Dhaka in 2010. Singh is one short of all-time high behind taekwondo ace Deepak Bista, who won four golds in the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th editions of the SA Games.

Gaurika also bagged silver in 50m backstroke event with a timing of 29.71 seconds. Indian swimmer Manna Rajiv Patel claimed gold in 28.94 seconds, while her teammate Ridhima Veerendra Kumar finished third in 30.46 seconds. Gaurika then teamed up with Lama, Tisa Shakya and Anushiya Tandukar to win bronze medal in 800m freestyle relay. India and Sri Lanka claimed gold and silver, respectively.

Gaurika, who became the first individual section medal winner for Nepal on her way to claiming four medals in the previous edition held in Guwahati three years ago, ended Nepal’s gold medal drought on the first day of the current SA Games after she won the 200m freestyle. She then added 200m backstroke gold on the second day. Gaurika has so far bagged seven medals — three gold, two silver and two bronze — and took her individual tally to 11 medals. Late Sunil Lal Joshi remains at the top with 14 medals — five silver and nine bronze — in six appearances. Unlike current provision of awarding single gold medal, weightlifters used to get three gold medals in one weight category — one each for snatch, clean and jerk, and total.

Of the seven events today, India claimed six gold medals on the fourth day to take their swimming tally to 22, while Sri Lanka and Nepal bagged four and three medals, respectively.

Singh on song

Gold    200m freestyle, 200m backstroke, 400m freestyle

Silver  100m backstroke, 50m backstroke

Bronze 400m freestyle relay and 800m freestyle relay (Gaurika Singh, Duana Lama, Tisa Shakya and Anushiya Tandukar)