Gaurika Singh secures Nepal’s first ever individual gold in international swimming meetThe 17-year-old wins women's 200m freestyle bettering her own national record and then anchors Nepali women’s team to bronze in 400m freestyle relay.
Gaurika Singh has won the women’s 200m freestyle at the ongoing South Asian Games, thus becoming the first Nepali swimmer ever to win an individual gold in any international competition.
The 17-year-old swimming star, who was the youngest Olympian at the Rio Games in 2016, clocked 2:05:06, breaking her own national record of 2:09.19, to win the historic gold for Nepal in the competition held at the brand new swimming pool with a heating facility in Satdobato, Lalitpur, on Thursday.
Shivangi Sharma of India stood second, and Junayna Ahmed of Bangladesh finished third.
Previously, Nepal had won gold only in a team event at the 8th edition of the extravaganza which then was known as SAF Games.
“I was thrilled with the cheer of everyone inside the swimming pool complex. I just can’t explain the feeling,” a shivering Singh said after her win.
“At this level, the standard is so high that it is always difficult, but you have to try our best. Today, my best was enough, and I am very happy.”
Asked about the support from the home crowd, Singh said: “The South Asian Games being held in Nepal has got everyone very excited. The home support even boosted my performance; it is a great atmosphere here.”
The teenage swimming sensation who trains in England also had this to say to her detractors: “Many people have made negative remarks about me staying out of Nepal. They even go on to say that I am not a Nepali national. But the feeling for me, while carrying the national flag at the podium is the best ever. These medals I earn are for Nepal.”
With 10 more events to compete at, Singh appeared optimistic yet wary.
“I have been preparing with my new swimming team this season. Everyone in the team has put in a lot of effort. I cannot say about what will happen tomorrow, but I just have to try my best. I don’t want to jinx anything just yet,” she said.
Singh, who had won a silver and three bronze medals at the last edition of the Games in 2016, is yet to compete at 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle; 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke; 200m and 400m individual medley; 800m freestyle relay; and 400m team medley at the current Games.
After her individual gold, Singh returned to the pool to anchor Nepal to a bronze medal in the women’s 400m freestyle relay alongside Duana Lama, Tisa Shakya and Anushiya Tandukar clocking 4:07:97. India finished first and Sri Lanka came home second.
Meanwhile,12-year-old Lama won a silver medal for Nepal in the women’s 200m breaststroke, bettering her own national record with a time of 2:44.68.
The Thursday’s competition went swimmingly if not for a brief power outage that interrupted medal distribution for the women’s 100m butterfly for about six minutes.