Muna breaks 19-year drought

DHAKA: Muna Basukala became the first Nepali table tennis player in 19 years to at least win a bronze medal singles event in the regional games after she cruised to the semi-finals defeating Ishara Madurangi Darshik of Sri Lankan in straight sets 4-0 here on Sunday.

Sizirin Shan had last won the singles bronze during fifth SAF Games held in Colombo in 1991. “I am extremely happy that I am in the semi-finals and hope to give my best,” said Muna after the win.

Muna, who has been representing Nepal in the regional games since the eighth SAF Games, said training made the difference. “Had only we been trained the way like it was this time, we would have achieved the success long time ago,” said the player. Earlier, she advanced to quarter-finals defeating Sonam Sultana Soma of Bangladesh 11-6, 11-8, 11-2, 11-6.

Meanwhile, Nabita Shrestha lost her quarter-final match 8-11, 6-11, 6-11, 7-11. Ajay Suwal squandered a chance to join Muna as the second player to make it to the singles semi-finals, losing 3-4 to Chalitha Ranjana of Sri Lanka. Ajay won the first three sets 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 and lost the next four 8-11, 11-13, 9-11, 18-20. He failed to seal the victory despite having three match points at 10-7 in the sixth set. Playing in his first SA Games, Ajay also had seven match points in the final and seventh set but the Sri Lankan saved all of them. Earlier, Ajay defeated Sayed Saleem Abbas of Pakistan 4-2.

Speaking of Ajay, coach Nabin Suwal said the player did not play up to his potential. “Muna won because her application and temperament in the match was very good while Ajay lost due to the lack of those qualities,” said coach ruing the certain bronze medal.

Nepal had mixed results in the first round of the women’s doubles matches. Muna and Gita Thapa Magar overcame Erandi Dilushika Warusaw and Nuwani Navodya Gonapir of Sri Lanka 5-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 while Nabita and Renuka Khatri lost to Sonam Sultana and Selaha Parvin 11-5, 11-8, 8-11, 7-11, 8-11.