Karateka Shrestha enjoys stardom, finally


Karateka Monday Kaji Shrestha finally tasted success and enjoyed stardom in the year 2019 after he won double gold medals in the 13th South Asian Games on home soil.

Although swimmer Gaurika Singh stole the limelight winning four gold medals, the meet carried significant importance for karateka Shrestha, who made his maiden appearance in regional sporting extravaganza, and proved his calibre.

Shrestha had won accolades in national and international tournaments previously but the luck was not in his part when it came to the SA Games.

Shrestha faced the axe in the final selection before the 10th SA Games in 2006, while hosts Bangladesh allowed only 10 karate players in the next edition and Shrestha failed to make the cut again. In 2015, India did not include karate in the SA Games and Shrestha’s dreams of shining in the regional meet were fading away slowly. But he did not lose hope and won both individual and team kata berths f o r the 13th SA Games which was being held on home soil.

The 13th edition of the SA Games was under black clouds from the day Nepal took the flag from India as the renovation and construction of the infrastructure devastated by the deadly earthquake in 2015 were way behind schedule. Nepal somehow managed to host the Games from December 1-10 and he took no time to bag first gold medal for the country in individual kata. Shrestha was over the moon when he led the home side to team kata gold. The success has earned him the nomination in the People’s Choice category under the Pulsar Sports Award along with four other athletes — swimmer Singh, footballer Sabitra Bhandari, basketball player Sadina Shrestha and volleyball player Aruna Shahi.

The winner will be decided through the public votes and votes of national coaches and the members of the Nepal Sports Journalists Forum, the organisers of the Award.

The 17th edition of the Award is scheduled for January 12 next year at the karate covered hall in Lalitpur. The Award features 10 categories — Player of the year (male), PoY (female) and PoY (youth), coach of the year, People’s Choice, Para-athlete, Special, Lifetime Achievement, Team of the Year and International Asian Sports Journalist.