Taekwondo fails to deliver, again
Kathmandu, August 23
Nepal failed to touch medal on the sixth day of the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia and the most successful sport of the country — taekwondo — returned empty handed from the regional sporting meet for the third time in a row.
Preparation-wise taekwondo had the best outing among the 29 sports disciplines participating in the Asian Games but still players even failed to challenge for the medal, let alone win any. Takwondo team went to South Korea, the macca of the sport, for almost three-month training with Olympian ace Sangina Baidya being the in-charge of the squad.
And the Nepal Taekwondo Association, back home, had also vowed to revive the glorious days. Players, coaches and managers of taekwondo squad were pretty confident of winning medal in the Asian Games and some had even seen the dreams of winning silver equalling the record of Sabita Rajbhandari — who had won the medal in 1998 Bangkok Asian Games.
But everything took nosedive when players surrendered meekly one after another in Jakarta. Nepal had fielded 12 player in Kyorugi (fight) but only three players were able to win one bout each — Gyani Chunara, Sagar Gubhaju and Bir Bahadur Mahara. And the poomsae teams faced defeats in first round.
Olympian Deepak Bista, who was one of the four coaches of the squad, defended the players. “We were not here for just participation and we had hoped of winning medal. But we fell short in all aspects,” said Bista.
“We need to analyse the shortcomings of Asian Games. The training was not adequate for players. We slept for three years and 10 months and trained for two months in Korea, which was not enough for the players to fight against the best athletes of the region,” added Bista, the four-time South Asian Games gold medallist and two-time Asian Games bronze medal winner.
“I am not blaming others, we also had certain errors and we need to correct them before going into another event,” said Bista.
“We were strong in the past as others were weak. But time has changed. Others have made significant improvement while we are at the same point. We were expecting medals from the players who lacked exposure and came here without adequate training. I think it’s not fair,” he added. “We are really sorry that we could not win any medal this time around but I am sure we can excel in next year’s South Asian Games if we start training from today,” added Bista.
Olympian Nisha Rawal lamented the training in South Korea. “We were simply outplayed because of our short height. And we do not have exposure and experience coming into such a big stage,” said Rawal, who participated in the Rio Olympics in 2016. “The training in Korea was not up to the mark as the opponents were too weak for us. And we also did not get sensors for practice,” she added.
Rawal said the lack of match practice was another reason behind the below-par performance. “We took part in an event in South Korea after the gap of one and half years before coming to Indonesia. We have to spend on our own if we want to gain experience by participating in any other competition,” added Rawal.
Another player, Gyani Chunara also lamented the training and said the team lacked exposure. “We rarely get exposures ahead of big events,” said Chunara. “And the level of our team has gone down while other countries have made significant progress,” she added.
However, this is not the first time taekwondo faltered in international stage. Nepali taekwondo failed to win medals in the previous two editions of Asian Games in Guangzhou (2010) and Incheon (2014). Nepal has not won medal in Asiad since Deepak Bista, Manita Shahi and Ayasha Shakya bagged bronzes in the Doha Asian Games in 2006.
In the 2015 South Asian Games held in Guwahati and Shillong, Nepal failed to win gold medal for the first time in 16 years. Nepal, who clean swept the debut 1999 edition on home soil and had added 10 more in the next three Games, returned with seven silver and three bronze medals from India.
Nepal made a disastrous start in golf at the Pondok Indah Golf and Country Club on Thursday. Sukra Bahaudr Rai was the best among the four Nepali golfers, shooting a nine-over 81 to share the 64th position, while Tanka Bahadur Karki was tied for 68th with the score of 10-over 82. Ajit BK shot 11-over 83 to be at the 71st position, while Prithvi Malla was at the 80th position after he played a round of 16-over 88. Keita Nakajima of Japan opened with four-under 68 to take one-stroke lead over four players. Indonesia Naraajie Emerald Ramadhan Putra, India’s Aadil Bedi, Ervin Chang of Malaysia and Hoyong Choi of Korea shared the second position at three-under 69. A total of 86 golfers are taking part in the 72-hole competition. In team competition, Nepal are at the 17th position with the score of 30-over 246. In all, 20 teams are in fray.
A day after Olympian Kamal Bahadur Adhikari shattered national records, lifter Bikash Shrestha finished 15th in the men’s 77kg weight category. He lifted 113kg in snatch and 135kg in clean and jerk for a total of 248kg on Wednesday. Adhikari lifted 119kg in snatch and 160kg in clean and jerk for a total of 279kg, setting national record in all three categories. He had earlier bettered the national record in clean and jerk with a lift of 156kg, breaking the previous best of 155kg. Sanju Chaudhary also set national record in women’s 53kg section at the Asian Games. Out of the four lifters, Tara Devi Pun will compete in 75kg weight category on August 26.
Olympian swimmer Sirish Gurung finished 40th in 100m freestyle heats on Thursday. He completed the distance in 57.92 seconds and failed to better his national record of 56.69 seconds. A total of 56 swimmers took part in the event. Another Nepali swimmer Tisa Shakya came 26th among 30 players in women’s 50m breaststroke heats. She came home in 39.46 seconds. On Friday, Shubham Shrestha will compete in 50m breaststroke, while Olympian swimmer Gaurika Singh and Tisa Shakya will take part in 50m freestyle heats.
The lone participant of Nepal in Pencak Silat, which made its debut in the Asian Games, Vivek Kumar BK was eliminated from the first round. BK faced a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Iran’s Mohammad Rahimibaladezaei in 60-65kg round of 16 clash on Men’s Class D section.
Nepal’s kabaddi team was eliminated from the group round following their 38-20 loss against Pakistan in the Group B match. In previous matches, Nepal registered victory over Malaysia, while they faced defeats against Iran, Indonesia and Japan. The victory over Malaysia was Nepal’s first-ever win in the history of Asian Games. Nepal had previously participated in 1990 Beijing, 1994 Hiroshima and 1998 Bangkok Asian Games.
Tilak Pun Magar became the lone Nepali archer to enter the second round of the Recurve Men’s Individual section. He defeated Nima Wangdi of Bhutan 6-0 (27-25, 26-25, 29-23) in round of 32 to set up the clash with Chinese archer Tisnyu Xu. Pun Magar drew the first set 26-26 to earn a point before taking a 3-1 lead by winning the next set 29-27. Xu hit back by winning the third set 29-27 to level the scores at 3-3 before both the players scored 28 each to share the points in fourth set. Xu earned a perfect 30 to that of 25 from Pun Magar to win the fifth and final set and registered a 6-4 victory. Another Nepali archer, Roshan Nagarkoti faced a 6-0 loss at the hands of Sri Lankan Sajeev de Silva Mahamadaachchi. Nagarkoti lost 27-24, 28-24, 27-25. In women’s category, Gyanu Awale lost 6-2 against Hong Kong’s Shuk Ching Ada Lam. Awale lost 27-22, 27-23 in the first two sets before winning the third one 26-21. But she faced a 28-23 loss in the fourth set. On Friday, Awale will pair with Tilak Pun Magar in the Recurve Mixed Team event against Kyrgyzstan, while the men’s team of Roshan Nagarkoti, Tilak Pun Magar and Ashim Sherchan will face Qatar in the Recurve Men’s Team event on Saturday.
Bijay Gautam finished eighth in men’s accuracy event of paragliding, one of the medal hopeful events of Nepal. Another paraglider Sushil Gurung was 24th among 33 participants. Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea claimed top three positions respectively. In women’s section, Nepal’s Trisha Shrestha Bomjan Tamang and Pratibha Bhujel were 14th and 15th in 18-athlete competition. Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia came first, second and third respectively. Paragliders will now compete in cross country race starting on Friday.
Nepali squash players Arhant Keshar Simha and Amrit Thapa Magar faced defeats in the first round matches on Wednesday. Simha lost 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 against Pakistan’s Tayyab Aslam, while Thapa Magar faced a 11-1, 11-4, 11-2 defeat at the hands of Hong Kong’s Yin Lee Ho.
Nepali players Pemba Sherpa and Pranil Man Shrestha failed to qualify from preliminary round of men’s Speed event of Sport Climbing. Sherpa and Shrestha finished at the bottom two in the 27-man field. Nepal also faltered in Combined event. Shrestha finished 21st and Sherpa was 22nd among 23 athletes. Nepali climbers will now take part in Bouldering qualifying on Friday.
A brief history of taekwondo
- Four bronze medals (Rajkumar Rai, Bidhan Lama, Rajkumar Gharti Chhetri, Raj Kumar Budhathoki)
- One bronze (Man Bahadur Shahi)
- One silver (Sabita Rajbhandari), Two bronze (Kishor Shrestha, Sapana Malla)
- Three bronze medals (Deepak Bista, Renuka Magar, Ritu Rai)
- Three bronze medals (Deepak Bista, Manita Shahi, Ayasha Shakya)
8th SAF Games (1999, Kathmandu)
- 14 Gold (clean sweep)
9th SAF Games (2004, Islamabad)
- 6 Gold
10th SA Games (2006, Colombo)
- 2 Gold, 3 Silver
11th SA Games (2010, Dhaka)
- 2 Gold, 2 Silver, 2 Bronze
12th SA Games (2015, Shillong)
- Seven silver, 3 bronze