Adhikari hopes to bring home a medal in his last international competitionThe Nepal Army lifter, who won the country’s first and only weightlifting gold medal, is hoping to leave on a high note at the upcoming South Asian Games.
Kamal Bahadur Adhikari might stand just 5 feet 2 inches but when it comes to weightlifting, he’s reached heights no Nepali has yet. Adhikari, who won the country’s first and only weightlifting gold at the 2006 South Asian Games in Colombo, will now be representing Nepal at the 13th South Asian games, to be held in Kathmandu and Pokhara from December 1-10.
Adhikari, a 42-year-old Nepal Army man, has been a lifter for the past 22 years and will be competing in the 73kg category. Given that the games are being held in Nepal, Adhikari is hopeful.
“The home conditions are likely to be in our favour,” he said. “Hosting such an international competition in Nepal will help players build confidence.”
Training for the games is currently underway, with many lifters surpassing their personal records, according to Adhikari. Adhikari has long been a dominant figure in Nepali men’s weightlifting, winning bronze medals in the Asian Inter-club Weightlifting Championships and the Asian Cup Weightlifting Championships, both of which were held in South Korea in 2017. A year later, Adhikari claimed two more bronze medals in the third Fajr Cup in Iran, where Nepal finished second with five bronze medals in the 12-nation competition.
But his successes have not come without challenges. In 2007, however, a severe back injury nearly sabotaged Adhikari’s Olympic aspirations. He managed to recover, regain fitness and compete in the Olympic Qualifiers, going on to represent Nepal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
As weightlifting is an intensive sport that requires peak physical fitness, Adhikari abides by a strict training regimen. He wakes up at dawn and goes for a physical workout. Later in the day, he undergoes regular training, followed by a light physical workout in the evening.
“Weightlifting is not just about lifting heavy objects. It might appear simple on television but it requires immense discipline, determination, uncompromised effort and a significant amount of concentration,” said Adhikari.
In addition to training, Adhikari also believes that there is a lot to be learned by watching top players from around the world.
“As the South Asian Games are being held in Nepal, it is a great opportunity for young lifters and those who follow the sport to learn from the best in South Asia,” he said.
Adhikari, with three other men and four women lifters and two officials, is currently in Incheon, South Korea for a 12-day training programme hosted by the Korea Weightlifting Federation.
“Sessions here are focused on technique and help us identify room for improvement and get feedback from those better in the sport,” said Adhikari’s coach Ram Paudel. “This will further hone our skills. Nepal is expecting a better performance and medals from lifters at the South Asian Games.”
The team of lifters, upon their return from South Korea, will train at the Pokhara Stadium, the venue that will host weightlifting during the regional games. As this particular event is especially important for Adhikari, he is preparing harder and hopes to bring home a medal.
“As this will be my last international competition, I am driven to give my best to hopefully win medals for Nepal,” he said.