NJA selects 18 judokas for SA Games

Kathmandu, September 1

Manita Shrestha Pradhan, Indra Bahadur Shrestha and Poonam Shrestha were among the 18 judokas who earned berths for the 13th South Asian Games slated for December 1-10 in Kathmandu and Pokhara, here today.

The three players won their respective weight categories in the final selection tournament and qualified for the regional sporting extravaganza for the second straight time. Manita had won silver medal in the previous edition in 2015, while Indra and Poonam were the bronze medallists. Judo had bagged one gold, two silver and six bronze medals in the 12th SA Games in Guwahati and Shillong.

Gold medal winner Phupu Lhamu Khatri is serving one year suspension for pulling out of the Olympic Scholarship programme unilaterally and fleeing the training in Japan.

In the absence of Khatri, Nirmala Gharti Magar earned berth in the below-63kg weight category after she defeated Amisha Rana and Sushila Kumari Chaudhary.

Manita, who recently took part in the World Championships, finished first in the 57kg weight category after she defeated Debaki Maya Pradhan and Kabita Nepal in the round robin matches. Fellow PAM judoka Indra beat Rajesh Chaudhary and Sunil Nagarkoti to register double victories in the below-66kg section. Likewise, Poonam outplayed Samjhana Chaudhary and Bhawana Gharti Magar to qualify in the below-78kg section.

Also earning berths for the SA Games by winning their respective weight categories included Soniya Bhatta (48kg), Devika Khadka (52kg), Nirmala Gharti Magar (63kg), Binita Magar (70kg) and Akriti Joshi (above-78kg). Two women judokas, Nisha Chaudhary (below-70kg) and Deepa Gurung (above-78kg), who finished as runners-up, were also picked up in the national team to complete the squad.

In men’s section, Umesh Magar (60kg), Sanjit Dangol (73kg), Manish Mahato (81kg), Shree Ram Makaju (90kg) and Ramesh Bahadur Chand (100kg) won their respective weight categories to qualify for the SA Games. Sunil Nagarkoti (66kg) and Pawan Kumar Singh (81kg) who finished runners-up, were also picked up in the national team.

In all, 41 judokas took part in the selection tournament organised by Nepal Judo Association.

According to NJA President Deepak Harsha Bajracharya, the association would send the players for foreign training to prepare for the SA Games. “Manita Shrestha Pradhan and Indra Bahadur Shrestha will go to Japan for training and we are trying to send two more players with them. We have decided to send other players to Mongolia,” he added.

Bajracharya said Manita Shrestha Pradhan will be going to Japan under the Olympic Scholarship Programme in place of Phupu Lhamu Khatri.

“We had sent Khatri to Japan under a lucrative scheme but she pulled out without consulting us in a disgraceful manner. We were forced to take action against her and we have heard that she has left the country recently,” said Bajracharya.

“We requested the Japanese authorities to take in Manita in that place and they have agreed to accept her.”