Kathmandu, October 1
The Nepal Karate Federation postponed the selection tournament after three karatekas protested against the event here at the International Sports Complex today.
Revoking its previous decision of picking up two best karatekas to join five others in the men’s team event of the 13th South Asian Games, the NKF had invited 10 players — who even failed to make it to the final in the selection tournament held on August 29 — to fight for two berths.
The NKF, formed after merging parallel bodies ending the long-standing dispute in the sport, had organised the final selection tournament to pick the squad for the regional sporting extravaganza slated for December 1-10 in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur. In its bid to avoid unfair selection, the NKF and National Sports Council had invited judges team from Thailand.
The NKF had decided that the gold medal winners from 60kg to above-84kg in kumite would fight in individual categories, while the five runners-up and two best fighters from among the winners would participate in team fight. The selection tournament went on smoothly and a total of 32 players made the cut in the national squad from among 108 karatekas who were called up in the preliminary squad.
But a couple of NKF officials came under influence from some of the losing players and the federation decided to add Binod Shakya and Digamber Panta in the men’s team event. The NKF, however, could not resist the protest from other players and later came up with another decision of organising a separate selection tournament for 10 karatekas who faced defeats.
But the event could not take place after Mohan Karki, Subash Ghatane and Aslam Seku Alam sat on the mat and did not allow officials to conduct the tournament. The three karatekas, who were in the preliminary squad and failed to make the cut in the final selection, demanded that all of the losing players should get the chance in the selection tournament and not only those who were in the team category.
The NKF had invited only 10 karatekas who were in the preliminary camp for team event but the trio — who faced defeats in individual kumite sections — captured the mat demanding another opportunity to fight in the selection tournament. In the August selection, Biplov Lal Shrestha and Sunita Maharjan — who were in team event in the preliminary squad — got selected in the individual section.
After rounds of failed efforts to conduct the tournament, AKF Referees Chhatra Ale and Rajendra Kapali — who were appointed by the NKF to oversee the event — postponed the tournament until next notice.
Sonam Lama (50kg) and Laxman Tamang (55kg) were selected for individual events from the selection tournament held in August, while Rajeev Pudasaini and Raj Kumar Rasaili (60kg), Navin Rasaili and Arjun Bagchand (67kg), Ganga Ram Kuswar and Mukunda Maharjan (75kg), Diwas Shrestha and Sushil Paudyal (below-84kg), and Biplov Lal Shrestha and Lekh Raj Mainali (above-84kg) had finished as top two karatekas respectively in their weight categories.
As per the association’s decision, gold medallists Sonam Lama, Laxman Tamang, Rajeev Pudasaini, Navin Rasaili, Ganga Ram Kuswar, Diwas Shrestha and Biplov Lal Shrestha were selected for individual events in kumite, while runners-up Raj Kumar Rasaili, Arjun Bagchand, Mukunda Maharjan, Sushil Paudyal and Lekh Raj Mainali were supposed to team up with two gold medallists in the seven-member team event.
In women’s kumite, Kusum Khadka and Anu Adhikari sealed their berths in 45kg and 50kg sections respectively. Manisha Chaudhary and Sushmita Waiba (55kg), Anu Gurung and Asthar Rai (61kg), Sunita Maharjan and Sunny Tamang (below-68kg), and Anupama Magar and Reeta Karki (above-68kg) claimed top two spots respectively. Gold medallists from 55kg to above-68kg will fight in individual category, while the runners-up will participate in team fight.
Monday Kaji Shrestha and Chanchala Danuwar have earned berths in individual kata section. The eighth National Games gold medallist Shrestha also sealed his place in the team kata along with Prabin Manandhar and Malvush Tamang. Binod Gurung has been kept as a reserve player in team kata. In women’s section, Danuwar booked berth in individual kata, while Nirmala Tamang, Sageeta Magar and Saru Karki qualified for team event, with Kopila Bista being the reserve player.
Chief coach Madan Upreti said the NKF wanted to give chance to more players as the SA Games was being held on home soil. “We would have taken these five players and add two best from individual categories if the SAG were held in another country. But as it is in our own backyard, the Federation decided to give opportunity to more players,” said Upreti. “The tournament was postponed today to amend the criteria of selection after demands from individual section players.”
A version of this article appears in print on October 02, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.