Phupu Lhamu Khatri created history with first-ever gold medal in women’s judo at the 12th South Asian Games here at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Sports Complex today.
The gold medal is Nepal’s first in judo since the 1995 Madras Games and second in the ongoing regional games. Wushuka Nima Gharti Magar opened Nepal’s gold medal account on the fourth day.
Khatri was at her best today as she scored Ippon decisions against first three opponents, while she outplayed Indian player with Waziri decision in the fourth and final bout when she was 10-1 up in the below-63kg weight category to remain unbeaten in the five-player round robin competition.
Khatri, who reached Guwahati from Hungary where she underwent one-month training under the Olympic Scholarship, knocked out Sri Lanka’s DYL Wijewardene in the first bout before she floored down Doususing Choudury Kanta of Bangladesh. The 21-year-old Khatri from Taplejung knocked down Pakistan’s Ambreen Masih before beating India’s Sunibala Devi Huidrom in the last match.
Khatri said there was no limit of her happiness. “I am too much happy today as I could make my country proud,” said Khatri, the BBS second year student at People’s College. “My father wanted to see me winning the gold medal. He is not with us today but I am happy that I could fulfill his dreams,” said emotional Khatri, who lost her father, Dorje Khatri, in Mt Everest avalanche two years ago.
Khatri thanked her association and coaches for their efforts to bring her to this stage. “My association and coaches Dharma Kumar Shrestha, Deepak Krishna Shrestha and Ramesh Magar, have done a lot for me. They believed in me and I am heartily thankful to them,” said Khatri, who has been living with her mother, elder sister and a brother in Vanasthali.
Khatri said she was fully satisfied with her performance. “There was a lot of expectation from me and my eight-year-long efforts paid off today,” she said. Khatri said the month-long Hungary training helped her in honing skills. “The training helped me in stamina, quick movement and speed, which helped me in winning bouts today,” said Khatri.
Olympian Debu Thapa, the 11th SA Games bronze medallist despite being one of the eight Nepali players to fall down from sixth floor in a lift mishap, was assigned with special task of preparing Khatri for the SA Games, accompanied her to Budapest. Thapa said her dreams were fulfilled. “I felt like she won it for me,” said Thapa.
“I wanted to win gold for the country but the lift accident ruined my dreams in Dhaka. Today, I am the happiest person as I could guide my student to victory in the SA Games,” said Thapa, who is with Khatri for the last eight months. “I am satisfied with her performance. This is the fourth medal she won since I started looking after her,” said Thapa. Khatri won silver in Olympic Ranking Tournament in Hong Kong and bronze medals in World Ranking Tournament in Macau and Birthday Cup in Hungary.
Thapa said the role of a coach was more difficult. “I found it easy when I was a player. I just needed to concentrate on my opponents and beat them,” said Thapa. “But a coach has to take care of all aspects, prepare players fully and know about their opponents,” said Thapa. “As a coach, I am always in pressure. I have to make sure that players implement the techniques taught in training,” she added.
The 2008 Olympian and 10th SA Games silver medallist Thapa said she was still ready to fight in the region and would give a try in the next edition. “I am extremely happy for Khatri as she has fulfilled my dreams. But I want to play one more SA Games and do it myself,” she added. Thapa was the most successful Nepali woman judoka in SA Games with one each silver and bronze and Khatri went one ahead with a gold. Both Thapa and Khatri expressed happiness. “My record is beaten by my own student and I am happy for her,” said Thapa. On the other hand, Khatri said coach Thapa motivated her to do well. “She wanted me to win gold and I just fulfilled her dreams.”
Asian standard performance
Chief coach Dal Bahadur Gurung said Khatri gave her best and that she would go way ahead in her career. “This is the best-ever performance by a Nepali player in South Asian Games and scoring three Ippons is not a joke,” he said. “Beating Indian player was more difficult. India is a tough team coached by a foreigner and they are properly managed,” said Gurung.
The coach said Khatri had potential to go to next level. “She put up a high-level performance today and this standard can earn a medal in Asian Games. If she continues with the regular training, she has the potential to win many accolades in future,” he added. Nepal trained for two weeks with Indian players in Bhopal before coming to Guwahati and coach Gurung said the training was helpful by many ways. “The most important aspect was the balanced diet that put the players in shape.”
Two more silvers
Lila Adhikari and Manita Shrestha Pradhan bagged silver medals in women’s section. Competing in the 52kg weight category, Adhikari played confidently in the first three rounds and knocked out her opponents — Bangladesh’s Tahamida Tabassum Jerin, Sri Lankan HMKT Karunarathne and Iran Shahzadi of Pakistan — before she lost to India’s Kalpana Devi Thoudam in the last match of the five-player field. After bagging three Ippons, Adhikari suffered a Sime loss against the Indian opponent that restricted her to silver medal.
In the 57kg weight category, Pradhan also lost to India’s Anita Chanu Angom in the third match. The player from Prisoners Assistance Mission, a orphanage to help kids of prisoners, Shrestha secured Ippon decisions against Liyanage KLMPK of Sri Lanka and Shumaila Gull of Pakistan in the first two rounds. Shrestha then lost to India’s Angom on Osaikomi decision and earned Waziri-Waziri result over Bangladeshi Singma Pru Marma to finish second.
Sarita Chaudhary added another medal in Nepal’s kitty when she finished third in the women’s 48kg weight category.
Two bronzes for men
Nepal earned three bronze medals in men’s section. Ramesh Magar finished third in men’s 66kg weight category, while Indra Bahadur Shrestha was restricted to bronze in 60kg section.
Women footballers win silver, again
SHILLONG: Nepali women football team finished runners-up for the second consecutive time when they suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of hosts India in the final of the 12th South Asian Games here at the Nehru Sports Complex on Monday.
Y Kamala Devi scored a hat-trick and L Ashalata Devi netted one as Nepal failed to break India’s final jinx for the fifth time. Kamala opened the scoring in the 32nd minute before doubling the tally in the 56th minute. She then completed the hat-trick in the 75th minute. Ashalata Devi completed the scoring in the 80th minute as India defended the title.
This is Nepal’s sixth loss against India in seven meetings. Nepal’s best result against the bitter rivals is the goalless draw in the league-round match of the Games last week. Nepal had made it to the final as the round-robin league winners with three wins and a draw. Previously, Nepal had faced defeats against India in the three SAFF Championships finals – 1-0 in Bangladesh, 3-1 in Sri Lanka and 6-0 in Pakistan. Nepal had lost 3-1 in the final of the 11th SA Games in Dhaka in 2010. In the third-place playoff match, Bangladesh defeated Maldives 7-6 in sudden death penalty to win bronze medal.
Nepal lose in handball
Nepali women handball team faced a 28-24 defeat at the hands of Pakistan in the third-place playoff match in Guwahati on Monday. Pakistan took a 17-11 lead in the first half before Nepali players staged a comeback in the latter half scoring 13 goals to Pakistan’s 11 but that was not enough to avert the loss.
13th SAG in 2018
SHILLONG: The meeting of South Asian Olympic Council on Monday decided to hold the 13th edition of the South Asian Games in Nepal in 2018. President of Nepal Olympic Committee Jeevan Ram Shrestha said the regional games’ governing body had requested Nepal to organise the Games in 2017. “The meeting proposed the next Games for 2017 but we requested them to give us two years time to prepare and they agreed,” said Shrestha. “We will decide the dates later after consulting with stakeholders,” he added. The decision was taken on the eve of the closing ceremony of the 12th SA Games in India’s North East cities of Guwahati and Shillong. Youth and Sports Minister Satya Narayan Mandal is scheduled to receive the Games flag during the closing ceremony at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium in Guwahati on Tuesday. Apart from Shrestha, NOC General Secretary Lama Tendi Sherpa and Member Nilendra Raj Shrestha took part in the meeting from Nepal.
A version of this article appears in print on February 16, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.