Nepal to field ‘weak karate team’ in SA Games

Kathmandu, September 30

At a time when the National Sports Council is on race against time to prepare for the 13th South Asian Games, karate authorities are using their full efforts to field a weak team in the regional sporting extravaganza slated for December 1-10 in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur.

The Nepal Karate Federation had on August 29 picked up the final squad from among 108 karatekas who were called up in the preliminary camp. The players put in their best efforts in the selection tournament and a total of 32 players earned berths in individual and team events of kata and kumite categories. The NKF — formed by merging parallel bodies that dogged the sport for a long time — had brought in foreign referees and judges to avoid any kind of influence in a bid to have fair selection.

The Association 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.

Everything was set and the players have been undergoing intensive training to give their best in the SA Games. But all of a sudden the Federation came up with a weird decision of picking up two fighters in the team event from among the karatekas who even failed to make it to the final in the selection tournament. Two best fighters were supposed to join five runners-up to form a strong team but karate authorities themselves are trying to weaken the team by bringing in two karatekas who lost in first or second round in the selection.

According to a source who requested anonymity, a couple of karate authorities came under the influence of the losing players’ and were pushing hard to bring in two karatekas into the SA Games squad from among those who failed to get selected. “The Federation revoked its previous decision of picking up the two best fighters from among the gold medal winners for the team event and organise a separate selection event for the players who lost in the previous tournament,” the source said. Around 10 players are set to fight for the two berths in selection event on Tuesday.

Sonam Lama (50kg) and Laxman Tamang (55kg) were selected for individual events from the selection tournament held last month, 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.