Karateka Manday Kaji Shrestha clinches twin golds on day oneThe 35-year-old becomes the first Nepali player to win double gold in a single day at the South Asian Games.
Karateka Manday Kaji Shrestha clinched two gold medals as Nepal made a flying start in the martial arts discipline, winning seven out of nine gold medals on offer at the ongoing South Asian Games at the Karate Hall in Satdobato on Monday.
The 35-year-old secured top finish in men's individual kata and team kata, becoming the first Nepali athlete to win double gold in the Games. Though athlete Rajendra Bhandari had secured two gold medals in 2006 Colombo Games, his medals were scrapped after he failed a doping test.
Shrestha scored 25.72 points against Pakistan's Niamatuliah's 24.92 in the individual kata final. Shrestha's kata team, comprising of Mahasus Tamang and Prabin Manandhar, scored 25.54 to edge Sri Lanka who scored 25.28 points.
"I am lost for words to explain my happiness," Shrestha said. "Winning gold for the country is a matter of pride and becoming the first Nepali player to win two golds has added to my happiness. I want to dedicate my success to my coaches, family members, Nepal Police and all supporters."
Shrestha, who hails from Madhyapur Thimi in Bhaktapur, has been playing karate for the past 25 years. He said the support of his family and coaches was instrumental in his win. The “agony of missing the last edition of the Games” also fuelled him to work even harder, he said.
"I was selected for the last edition of the Games, and we had trained for nearly four months in the country and attended a month-long training in Thailand,” Shrestha said. “But we were informed that the Games were scrapped three days prior to the kick-off. We returned to Nepal in tears. That incident inspired me to work hard and prove my worth.”
India, a karate powerhouse of the region, did not compete in the region owing to disputes in their federation.
Shrestha claimed India’s decision to not play in the Games did not offer any advantage to Nepal.
"My coaches have told me that my performance was much better than in the past. We did not win because India was not playing. In fact, we recently defeated India in the final of South Asian Championships," said Shrestha.
Meanwhile, in the women’s kata category, the Nepali team, studded with Sangita Malla, Nirmala Tamang and Saru Karki, claimed gold for the country, defeating Pakistan. They scored 24.88 against 23.3 of Pakistan.
In the singles category, however, Chanchala Dunwar lost to Pakistan’s Shahida. Dunwar scored 24.62 against Shahida’s 25.28.
In the men’s kumite event, Laxman Tamang (U-55kg) and Biplav Lal Shrestha clinched gold for Nepal, while Kusum Khadka (U-45kg) and Anu Adhikari (U-50kg) finished on top spots.
Adhikari put up an impressive show to overcome her Sri Lankan opponent Dan Pawulu in a technical knockout. Adhikari was declared the winner after she scored 8-0 with still 1 minute 16 seconds remaining on the clock.
Khadka overcame Bangladesh’s Mounjera Borna 3-2 in the final. She turned 3-1 semi-final deficit against Sri Lanka's Senarath Arachchige to win 7-6.
Tamang clinched men's kumite gold, defeating Bangladesh's Muhammad Mustafa Kumal 1-0 in final. Biplav defeated Pakistan's Muhammad Baz 6-5 in the final overturning early deficit of 2-0.