Olympian weightlifting athlete Joshi passes away

Kathmandu, June 25

Olympian weightlifting athlete Sunil Lal Joshi passed away this morning at the Shahid Gangalal National Heart Centre.

Joshi, 53, who participated in the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996, had won a record 17 medals in the South Asian Games. He won silver medal in the first South Asian Federation Games in Kathmandu in 1974 and went on to take part in the next six editions of the regional games claiming a total of six silver and 11 bronze medals in the span of 11 years.

Joshi, the Chief Coach of Weightlifting at the National Sports Council, was also the vice-president of Nepal Weightlifting Association and Chairman of Olympic Association. He joined the NSC as a coach on September 17, 1995 and was promoted to senior coach on January 5, 2006. His body was kept at the NSC premises for a couple of hours before being taken to Pashupati Aryaghat. Olympian athlete Jeet Bahadur KC and Nepal Olympic Committee President Jeevan Ram Shrestha draped Joshi’s body with the Olympic flag.

Acting Secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports Gyan Raj Subedi, Vice-president of NSC Lama Tendi Sherpa, All Nepal Football Association President Narendra Shrestha, President of Nepal National and International Players Association Deepak Shrestha, Olympians, athletes, officials from various national associations, NSC staff and sports journalists paid tribute to Joshi. He is survived by wife, son and daughter.

Contemporary lifter Sanjay Maharjan said Joshi was a great soul and a helpful person. “We trained and played together for many years. He took part in SAF Games from the first edition and I joined him from the third. We used to have a great competition to become the strongest man in the tournaments,” said Maharjan. “We used to share rooms although we were in different weight categories in international competitions. He always inspired us to do well and helped a lot to improve our game,” he added. “The loss is irreparable in Nepali sports, especially in weightlifting.”

South Asian Games gold medal winner Kamal Bahadur Adhikari said Joshi was a role model for many in sports fraternity. “He was one of the few successful sports personalities and most probably the best coach in weightlifting,” said Adhikari, who created history by winning maiden gold medal in the 10th SA Games in Colombo in 2006.

NWA General Secretary Parth Sarathi Sen Gupta, who is popularly known as Mithu Guru in sports fraternity, said weightlifting would badly miss the services of Joshi. “He was one of my favourite players as I was his mentor in many international competitions. He was a disciplined and hard working lifter,” said Gupta. Gupta lauded Joshi’s contribution in Nepali weightlifting. “He has contributed a lot for Nepali sports and he was a successful as an athlete and a coach. He was a very dynamic personality and his absence will affect the progress of weightlifting,” added Gupta.

The NWA is preparing to host the 19th Youth, 24th Junior Women and 31st Junior Men Asian Weightlifting Championship from July 21-29 in Kathmandu. “Losing Joshi at a time when our lifters are preparing to participate in an international tournament is painful,” he said.