Rokaya receives the lifetime achievement awardRokaya represented Nepal in two Olympics—1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona—besides competing twice each in the Asian Games and Asian Championships
An athlete from remote Karnali Province, Hari Bahadur Rokaya was on Tuesday feted with lifetime achievement award during the NSJF Pulsar Sports Award on Tuesday.
The 53-year-old made foray into athletics in 1984 during the National Athletics Championships claimed a double bronze competing barefooted. In the third National Games held in Birgunj in 1986, Rokaya became the lone athlete from Karnali zone to win a medal among the 173 participants. While Baikuntha Manandhar was ruling the long distance course during the 1980s, Rokaya emerged as a new sensation in the middle distance race in the country.
Rokaya represented Nepal in two Olympics—1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona—besides competing twice each in the Asian Games and Asian Championships. He had set national records in the 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m races during his heydays. He is the 5,000m bronze medallist of the 1983 South Asian Federation Games (currently called the South Asian Games). In all, he claimed 11 gold medals at various national events.
During the later stage of his career, he choose a slightly different path, taking part in trail running and ultra race. He won the Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon, the highest altitude marathon on earth, which starts from an altitude of 17,000 feet in Gorakshep and ends at an altitude of 11,300 feet in Namche. Aged 36, he won the third Everest Marathon in 2000 in 3 hours 50 minutes 23 seconds, a record recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest timing for the highest altitude marathon.
While still active as an athlete, Rokaya was appointed athletics coach of Jumla by National Sports Council in 1993 where he started the Hari Rokaya Sports Academy. Bishwarupa Budha, Durga Budha, Sunmaya Budha, Rejina Bhandari, Purna Laxmi Neupane and Bishnu Budha are among some of the products of the academy who have earned nationwide fame.
“My objective is to develop Jumla as the high altitude training centre and I request all the concerned stakeholders to support me,” said Rokaya, who has already started annual Jumla-Rara Marathon on his own. “I will remain active in athletics as long as my health permits,” said Rokaya.