Kathmandu, November 22
The Olympic Torch Rally of the 13th South Asian Games began here from Swoyambhu today.
Olympian and Nepal’s first international medal-winning athlete Jit Bahadur KC received the torch from National Sports Council Member Secretary Ramesh Kumar Silwal amidst a programme.
The nine-day Torch Relay will reach all seven provinces, informed Deepak Shrestha, President of Nepal National and International Players Association. The NSC has handed the responsibility of Torch Relay to the NNIPA.
Olympian KC, legendary marathon runner Baikuntha Manandhar, South Asian Games record holder taekwondo ace Deepak Bista, athletes Rajendra Bhandari, Gyan Bahadur Bohara, Raj Kumari Pandey, Kanchhi Maya Koju and Mukunda Hari Shrestha, swimmer Nayana Shakya, boxer Umesh Maskey, judoka Debu Thapa and NNIPA President Shrestha will carry the torch to different parts of the country.
The torch reached Biratnagar (Province-1) today, while Janakpur, the host city of wrestling event in Province-2, will host a rally on the second day. The Relay will go to Hetauda and Chitwan (Province-3) on the third day before reaching to Lumbini and Butwal (Province-5) the following day. Surkhet (Karnali Province) and Nepalgunj (Province-5) will host the Relay on the fifth day, while it will reach Dhangadhi (Sudurpaschim Province) on the sixth day. The torch will reach Pokhara (Gandaki Province) — the venue for eight sports disciplines under SA Games — on the seventh day and a rally will be held the following day.
The Olympians will take the torch to various parts of Kathmandu on December 1 before entering the Dasharath Stadium to light the cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Games. “After a round of relay at the Dasharath Stadium, we have nominated Olympian Bista to light the flame as he is the South Asian record holder taekwondo player,” said NNIPA President Shrestha.
More than 5,000 delegates including 3,250 athletes will take part in the regional meet that features 26 sports disciplines.
Nepal is fielding the highest number of athletes — 597 — and is the only nation to participate in all 26 sports disciplines. SA Games powerhouse, India is sending 521 athletes in 20 disciplines, while Sri Lanka has entered 612 athletes in 25 disciplines. Likewise, Bangladesh is sending 591 athletes in 25 disciplines, while Pakistan will send 413 athletes in 18 sports. Bhutan (135) and Maldives (332) will take part in 14 and 10 disciplines respectively.
The SA Games offers a total of 1,111 medals — 316 gold, 316 silver and 479 bronze — with swimming being at the top with 38 gold medals. Athletics offers 36 gold medals, while taekwondo is third at 29. Wushu offers 22 gold medals, while weightlifting, shooting and wrestling offer 20 each. Karate (19), boxing (16), judo (15), fencing (12) and archery (10) offer gold medals in double digits, while cycling has eight each. Badminton, table tennis and tennis offer seven gold medals each, while triathlon has five. Squash, volleyball, golf and basketball have four each, whereas cricket, football, handball, kho-kho and kabaddi offer two each.