Gurung, Bhandari named player of the yearAjit Yadav becomes the best youth. Paragliding rules the roost with three awards.
Paraglider Yukesh Gurung and footballer Sabitra Bhandari won the male and female player of the year honours under the Pulsar Sports Award on Tuesday.
Middle distance runner Ajit Yadav took the youth player of the year honour and paragliding coach Yogesh Bhattarai was named the best coach. Visually-impaired cricketer Manakeshi Chaudhary was the para athlete of the year and spiker Reshma Bhandari won the People’s Choice Award. One of the most successful footballers, Rohit Chand, won the Special Award.
Gurung was pivotal in handing Nepal their first ever silver medal at the Asian Games in two decades after the men’s team made a second-place finish in the cross country during the 18th edition in Indonesia. He was also the bronze medal winner of the Paragliding Accuracy World Cup held in Syangja.
In winning the award, Gurung got the better of national team skipper Paras Khadka, his teammate Sompal Kami, judoka Indra Bahadur Shrestha and golfer Sukra Bahadur Rai. Gurung said it was a great gift for his father. “I am really happy because today is my father’s birthday. I want to dedicate this award to him. It was a great journey for us and we were thankful that Asian Games decided to include paragliding. I hope the government looks after the sports in a better way,” said the 17-year old.
The winners of the player of the year male, female, coach and people’s choice were provided with a Pulsar motorcycle. The other winners got Rs 50,000 apiece. The winners and nominees also received gift hampers.
Bhandari, who had a tremendous Nepali calendar year, played a crucial role in leading Nepal for the first time into the second round of the Olympic Qualifying. A runner-up of the SAFF Women’s Championship in Biratnagar where she was the highest goal scorer, Bhandari had scored both the goals when Nepal defeated India 2-0 for the first time in their women’s football history.
Saraswati Chaudhary of volleyball, Sita Rana Magar of cricket, Nima Gurung of taekwondo and Manita Shrestha Pradhan of judo were other four nominees in the female category. Bhandari thanked everyone for the award. “I would like to thank the organisers and the coaches without whom I couldn’t have been what I am today,” said Bhandari.
Paragliding had a tremendous evening at the Nepal Academy Hall after the sport also took the team of the year award and Bhattarai won the coach award ahead of Hari Khadka of football, Dhaniram Chaudhary of athletics, Jagat Tamatta of cricket and Gyanendra Bista of volleyball. “We had actually pushed for gold in Indonesia but were unlucky to lose out to the top prize by 27 points to Japan. Our aim now will be to win gold medals at bigger sporting events,” said Bhattarai.
Youth player of the year Yadav had got into history books after he claimed 3,000m gold in the third Asian Youth Athletics Championships. It was first ever gold for Nepal at Asian level of the sports discipline. Prince Dahal of badminton, Manjali Kumar Yonjan of football, Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi of cricket and Bijay Shrestha of karate were other nominees of the category.
In an award ceremony where men’s cricket didn’t win a single accolade, spiker Reshma beat the likes of leg-spin prodigy Sandeep Lamichhane, bodybuilder Maheshwor Maharjan, footballer Bhandari and badminton’s Dahal to win the people’s choice award. Reshma earned more than 87000 votes with her closest competitor Bhandari getting over 69,000 votes. The winner of the people’s choice was determined by the number of SMS votes, facebook likes along with voting from NSJF members and national sports associations’ coaches. Lamichhane was at the pit bottom with mere 411 votes.
Chand, who plies his trade with Persija Jakarta in the premier domestic competition of Indonesian football, was honoured with special award. Chand is one of the famous foreign recruits in the Indonesia with a strong fan base. He was also named the best player of Ligue 1 which Jakarta won last year. His brother Rabindra took the award on his behalf.
Chaudhary, a B2 category visually impaired player, has been an inspiration for many. She was the revelation in Nepal’s four-match Twenty20 series in Pakistan scoring a total of 183 runs. She ended up being the player of the series under the B2 category.