Kathmandu, November 30
Nepal Swimming Association is pinning hopes on Gaurika Singh to bag maiden gold medal in the 13th South Asian Games.
Singh, who lives in United Kingdom with her parents, had bagged historic silver medal in individual event along with three bronze medals in the previous edition of the regional sporting extravaganza in Guwahati three years ago and chief coach Shankar Karki was hoping for the swimmer to go one step better this time around.
“We have high hopes from Gaurika,” said Karki. “She bagged silver and bronze medals in the 12th SA Games and looking at her timing and training, we can expect a gold medal from her,” he added. Singh, who has received the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games scholarship, has been training in London and is expected to take part in the opening ceremony of the Games on Sunday.
Singh is scheduled to take part in nine events in the swimming competition scheduled for December 5-9. “We have given her maximum events as we are pinning hopes on Singh,” added Karki.
Along with Singh, two other swimmers Sayed Hamza Shah and Sofia Shah also trained in foreign. “They had good training abroad and their timings are also good.
But it will be a tough ask for them to bag gold medals,” added Karki.
No Nepali swimmer has bagged gold medal in individual event in the SA Games. Nepal’s maiden gold came in the 1999 SAF Games when Nayana Shakya, Runa Pradhan, Rubina Pradhan and Stuti Singh finished first in 4X100m Medley Relay. Gaurika Singh became the first Nepali swimmer to win medal in individual event in Guwahati three years ago and she went on to bag four medals including a silver.
Asked about other players, coach Karki said he was expecting them to better personal best timing and break the national records.
“We have provided good training for them as well and we have also brought a coach from India to train them,” said Karki.
“But we did not get proper facilities as we do not have heating-system pool in Nepal. These swimmers have been training in shortcourse pool at Lincoln School for the last two months and they will have to perform in similar pool in the SA Games. So we are hoping for the best,” he added.
Swimmer Anubhav Subba was satisfied with the training but rued the missed opportunity of practicing in the proper facilities. “I have set a target of touching medal in the Games,” said Subba.
“The swimming pool is not ready even today and we are still unsure whether the tournament will take place or not,” said Subba. “The pool where we are supposed to compete is not ready yet, let alone get the chance to train there.”
Another swimmer, Upaasti Maharjan was also concerned about the competition venue. “We still do not know where the tournament will take place. It is not confirmed whether we need to go to Nepalgunj for the tournament or we are competing at the Lincoln School pool where we have been practicing,” said Maharjan. “We could not cash in on the opportunity of playing at home,” she added.
Men — Alex Shah, Shuvam Shrestha, Sayed Hamza Shah, Anubhav Subba, Nasir Hussain, Dipanker Awale, Tenzing Rayan Namdol Gurung, Bikash Kumal, Gaurav Lama; Women — Gaurika Singh, Duana Lama, Sofia Shah, Tisa Shakya, Upaasti Maharjan, Anushiya Tandukar, Sameera Shova Thapa, Adipsha Vaidya.
A version of this article appears in print on December 01, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.