Nepal’s golden girl Gaurika grabs her second gold with the 200m backstroke winSingh adds 200m backstroke gold to Thursday’s freestyle victory over the same distance.
Gaurika Singh claimed her second gold of the 13th South Asian Games as she clocked 2 minutes 17.73 seconds to win the women’s 200m backstroke at the Satdobato swimming pool in Lalitpur on Friday.
Singh initially trailed India’s Manna Rajiv Patel, but made a strong comeback to clinch another gold at home.
With another top of the podium finish, Singh, who has got a new moniker the ‘Nepali Mermaid’, has become one of the most decorated Nepali athletes at the regional sporting spectacle. She has won two individual gold medals and a team event silver so far.
Patel clocked 2:20.71 for a silver, while Sri Lanka’s Yalindi Minagi Rupesinghe picked a bronze at 2:27.25.
On Thursday, Singh had won a gold at 200m freestyle and anchored Team Nepal to a bronze in the 400m freestyle relay.
Singh had said on Thursday that she would prefer not to speak with the media during her events to focus on the remaining races.
But the 17-year-old let her action do the talking in the pool, drawing praise from Nepal Swimming Association President Ashok Bajracharya.
"Gaurika is an Olympian, we certainly have a lot of hope from her. We believe she will win at least three gold medals for the country at these Games,” Bajracharya continued. “But the way she is, a champion, she might as well surprise us with more than just three.”
Speaking about Singh’s win on Friday, Nepal swimming team’s head coach Shankar Karki said, "Gaurika left the rivals in her wake; it is a big achievement. Her determination and training with her team in England has led to this result. She is focused and has all the attributes of a champion."
Singh had registered for 12 categories in the swimming competition, three of which are team events. But she later decided not to contest the 400m individual medley—held on Friday.
“Gaurika had to withdraw from the 400m individual medley due to a time clash. She will probably leave one more out on Saturday to concentrate on individual events. However, we haven’t yet decided which one to drop,” added Karki.
“Going for a 100m backstroke shortly after competing in the 800m freestyle would be too demanding. Having swum two individual races already, she might compete in five more.”
Singh has registered her name for the 800m freestyle and 100m backstroke scheduled for Saturday.
Watching her go from strength to strength, the swimming officials cannot help nurturing Olympic hopes.
"She is still very young and has a lot of potential. With the way she has been performing, Gaurika certainly can do a lot better at the Olympics. We can only dream," Bajracharya added. “Her brilliant performances are making us wish and hope for more success."
Asked to comment on her performance on Friday, where she was initially behind Patel, Bajracharya said: "Like any accomplished players in every other sport, it might have been her strategy."
Bajracharya was equally pleased to note improved performances from other Nepali swimmers. "Golden days for swimming in Nepal have begun. With the heated pool now in place, the swimmers can train round the year," he said.