Pulsar Sports Award: Khadka, Gauchan clinch top awardsNational cricket team skipper Paras Khadka won the player of the year for a record fourth time as shuttler Shova Gauchan took the women’s honour of the Pulsar Sports Award on Thursday.
National cricket team skipper Paras Khadka won the player of the year for a record fourth time as shuttler Shova Gauchan took the women’s honour of the Pulsar Sports Award on Thursday.
Cricket made it big after it swept four out of eight categories as leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane won youth player of the year, Jagat Tamatta the best coach and hard-hitting allrounder Karan KC the special award. Former footballer and coach Ashok KC was honoured with the lifetime award, table tennis player Santoo Shrestha stunned Lamichhane in the people’s choice category, while wheelchair basketball and cricket team captain was named para-athlete of the year.
The 64-year-old Ashok KC was one of the key members of the Nepali national football team that played its first official match in 1982 Asian Games in India. The first generation star is suffering from multiple diseases including depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. During his 16-year international career he not only played with seniors like Achyut Krishna Kharel and Komal Pandey but also with Ganesh Thapa and Rupak Raj Sharma. “I did all what I could have done for my country,” said KC in the video presentation and did not speak on Thursday due to his poor health conditions.
KC played for New Road Team, Mahabir Club before settling to Nepal Police Club after the departmental team offered him a job. He won all domestic titles during his playing career of 18 years. The male, female, coach and people’s choice winners were rewarded with Pulsar NS motorcycle and organisers Nepal Sports Journalists Forum rewarded rest of the winners with a cash purse of Rs 50,000 apiece.
Khadka was almost the outright winner in the male category having led Nepal to One-Day International status and on the way giving a brilliant performance with the bat himself. He was the top scorer for Nepal in two crucial tournaments—ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia and World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe.
His teammate Lamichhane was the other nominee in the category that also included Dipesh Dhami of badminton, Tanka Karki of golf and Indra Bahadur Shrestha of judo. Khadka was modest after winning the award. “It has been a year of cricket for Nepal. It came as a surprise as I thought Sandeep was going to win it. To win this award again has motivated us to bring more good results for the nation,” said Khadka.
Tamatta coached the Nepali team that finished runners-up in Division 2 and under him Nepal became an ODI nation. He also became the second coach to win the award twice, a feat achieved by former national cricket team coach Pubudu Dassanayake. “I am very much overwhelmed by this recognition. I was nominated for fifth time and its great to win it again,” said Tamatta. Prakash Thapa Magar of boxing, Jayant Kumar Shrestha of badminton, u-19 cricket team coach Binod Das and Chhiring Lhopsang Gurung were other nominees in the category.
Lamichhane had a memorable 2017-18 season after giving a breathtaking performance in almost all the tournaments he participated in both for the national and U-19 teams. He collected a total of 84 wickets with 35 of them coming for the senior side. He took 24 wickets in the ICC Asia U-19 World Cup Qualifying to become a Nepali bowler with maximum number of wickets in a single tournament. He was the man-of-the-series in Division 2 with 17 wickets.
KC laid the foundation for Nepal to become an ODI team through after he pulled Nepal from the jaws of defeat in a must-win match against Canada in Division 2. Chasing 195 for victory, Nepal were virtually thrown out of contest when they were reduced to 144-9 at one stage. But KC did the unthinkable with a 51-run partnership with Lamichhane and smashed an all-important 42 from 31 balls to hand Nepal a last ball victory. That remarkable victory ensured Nepal a place in the Qualifiers from where they became an ODI team for the next four years.
Gauchan had teamed up with Dhami to bring Nepal a gold medal from the Pakistan International Badminton Series mixed doubles gold. She and Dhami also went on to claim silver medal in the Nepal series of the same tournament. Gauchan was lost for words. “I want to dedicate this award to mom who has been very supportive to me,” Gauchan said.
Footballer Sabitra Bhandari, table tennis player Nabita Shrestha, archer Gyanu Awale and boxer Bimala Shrestha were the other nominees for female player of the year.
Shrestha scored a stunning victory in People’s Choice category getting the better of Lamichhane who had made global limelight after becoming the first Nepali cricketer to be bought in the cash-rich Indian Premier League. Out of 344,385 votes, Shrestha earned 41 percent, while Lamichhane was a distant third with 15 percent. Volleyball’s Man Bahadur Shrestha got 21 percent of voting. Teen golfer Pratima Sherpa and goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong were other two nominees in the category.
For the first time, NSJF had collected votes from national coaches and its members that carried 50 percent of the total weightage. Rest of the 50 percent was collected through SMS and facebook likes.
Aryal, a warrant officer, first class in the Nepal Army, had broken his spinal cord after he trapped in a Maoist ambush in December 2003 during the times of insurgency. But Aryal came back to life after taking of wheelchair sports and led Nepal to first South Asian Wheelchair cricket tournament title at home. He also helped the basketball team win the South Asian Wheelchair basketball.