Gopi Chandra Parki resists stiff challenge to restore Nepal’s glory in 5,000-meter raceThe Armed Police Force runner has his eyes set at winning a marathon gold by bettering the record set by legendary Baikuntha Manandhar in 1987.
Gopi Chandra Parki restored glory for Nepal in the men’s 5,000-metre race, finishing ahead of charging Indian and Sri Lankan runners at the Dashrath Stadium track on Friday.
The 30-year-old crossed the finish line clocking 14 minutes 54.20 seconds to beat Indian’s Sunar Dawar, who came in second at 14:55.21.
Nepal’s Hari Kumar Rimal came home third at 14:57.05, after breaking away from a group of nine runners from Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Pakistan.
Parki’s winning time in the race, however, was far behind Rajendra Bhandari’s national record of 14:04.89, set at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
Bhandari had clinched two gold medals for Nepal in men’s steeplechase and 5,000-meter race at the 2006 South Asian Games. But he was stripped of medals after testing positive to a banned substance.
“It is a matter of pride that I managed to restore the glory in the 5,000m race,” he said.
But Friday’s race wasn’t an easy run for Parki, as Indian and Sri Lankan runners challenged him till the end, using race tactics to slow him down and block his path.
“They knew their chances were slim if they picked pace early on due to the altitude factor here in Kathmandu. In order to slow me down, they had me surrounded, ran in a zigzag pattern, blocked my way and tried to distract me,” Parki told the Post after completing the race.
“I had anticipated that such a situation would arise but I believe I can beat
anyone in the region in the last 110 meters,” he said. With that win, Parki also became the first Nepali male athlete to grab a gold in men’s middle-distance race at these Games—a goal he had set his eyes on ten years ago.
“I joined the Armed Police Force departmental team ten years ago with only one ambition: to excel in athletics,” said Parki, who first arrived in Kathmandu to represent the far-western region at a school-level competition.
“Athletes from the departmental teams [Nepal Army, Armed Police Force, Nepal Police] had secured top positions then,” he recalled, “I joined the Armed Police Force Club in 2010 to run.”
And Parki did.
At the Baijanath Battalion of Armed Police Force, Parki proved himself as one of the best runners among the new recruits and trained under then chief instructor Deputy Superintendent Madhav Regmi.
Three months later, Parki would become a top runner, make it to the national team and compete at the national level, where his biggest victories would come in the 5,000- and 10,000-metre races.
Parki’s personal best of 14:44.3 in 5,000 metres was set earlier this year at the 8th National Games.
“I chose to go for 5km because our South Asian Games gold was stripped in 5,000m and I wanted to restore the glory,” Parki said, adding that the success came only after 14 years of hard work.
He said that he would now focus on the marathon.
“Legendary runner Baikuntha Manandhar wants his South Asian record of 2 hours 15 minutes 3 seconds to be broken by a Nepali,” said Parki. “I want to surpass that mark.”