Manita, Ayesha can qualify: Coach

Kathmandu, September 21:

Award winning taekwondo coach Kwon Hyouk Joung tipped Manita Shahi and Ayesha Shakya as the probables to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics when four Nepali players participate in the qualifiers next week.

Apart from Manita, who won gold in the 10th SAG and bronze at the 15th Asiad, and Ayesha, who claimed silver at the SAG and bronze at Asiad, Deepak Bista and Kumar Manandhar are also leaving for Manchester on Monday to take part in the World Olympics Qualifying in Manchester from September 28-30.

Bista became the only second player in Nepal’s history to win three consecutive gold medals at the South Asian Games and the first to win two and back to back bronze medals at the Asian Games. Kumar won silver in the SA Games in Sri Lanka last year.

Asked about Nepal’s realistic chances to qualify for the 2008 Olympics, Joung said Manita and Ayesha might make the country proud. “All are doing good in training and all the players have potentials but I think Manita and Ayesha can really make the difference,” said Joung at a programme organised by Ananda Bhumi School to welcome the players.

“I am very happy with the way all these players are making labour at the training in South Korea. It’s a very hard training and they are doing their best,” said the South Korean coach Joung. According to the coach, the players have been undergoing six hours a day training for the last five months.

The players, however, were determined to perform well in Manchester. “I will put every effort in this tournament as this is the last year for me to materialise my dream to play in the Olympics,” said Bista, who will compete in Welter weight category.

Manita said she was confident of doing well in the qualifying. “Our coach (Joung) has put a lot of faith on us and we won’t let him down,” said the Nepal Police player, who will participate in the Light weight category.

Young talent Ayesha said she has improved a lot after the training. “I have improved a lot and I am determined to use the skills I learned during the training,” she said. “I am positive about the qualifiers and I can qualify for the Olympics if luck favours me,” said Ayesha, who will try her luck in the Feather weight section.

“It would be difficult to qualify through the World Olympic Qualifying. Our confidence level has gone very high and I think I can put up a good fight with strong opponents,” said Manandhar. “The coach has a lot of expectations from us and I will try to deliver my level best,” he added.

Nepal Taekwondo Association president Rukma Shumsher Rana and Ananda Bhumi School principal Bhoj Bahadur Shah felicitated the players and coaches as wished best lucks for them.