Gaurika completes golden hat-trick at the South Asian GamesThe 17-year-old Nepali swimming sensation on Sunday added 400m freestyle title to 200m freestyle and 200m backstroke victories. Duana Lama won silver in 200m butterfly.
Nepali swimmer Gaurika Singh became the first Nepali athlete to win three gold medals in a single edition of the South Asian Games on Sunday, as she added the women’s 400m freestyle title to two other victories in the competition.
Singh, who had won gold medals in the women’s 200m freestyle and 200m backstroke in the competitions on Thursday and Friday, won the 400m at 4 minutes 25.28 seconds at the Satdobato Swimming Complex.
Singh, who had avoided the media to focus on her events, eventually decided to talk to reporters. “When I won the first gold medal, I was thrilled. The emotions were exactly the same when I got the other two gold medals. I just can not describe the feeling!” the 17-year-old opened up after the competitions on Sunday.
“Everyone were cheering for me and my grandfather was jumping, I am still only processing the images. The performances have certainly been better than we expected. My team in England is very delighted as well,” she added.
It was a busy Sunday for Singh, as she also competed in 100m backstroke and 800m freestyle relay. She won silver in the 100m backstroke (29.71 sec) and a bronze in 400m freestyle relay at the ongoing Games.
The Nepal relay team, also featuring Duana Lama, Tisa Shakya and Anushiya Tandukar, completed their race in 8:54.91.
Singh, who had won four medals including a silver, also expressed her delight at competing in these Games in front of the home crowd.
“It’s been a great feeling. The credit goes to the organisers for putting in place an international standard swimming facility despite time constraints and several limitations,” she said.
The teenage star is now just one gold medal away from equalling taekwondo player Deepak Bista’s record of four in the South Asian Games. Bista won his gold medals at the 1999 Games in Kathmandu, 2004 Games in Islamabad, 2006 Games in Colombo, and 2010 Games in Dhaka.
Ayasha Shakya of Taekwondo has won three gold and two silver medals while legendary marathoner Baikuntha Manandhar has won three gold and a bronze at the Games.
Having won 11 medals, including three gold and two silver, in the regional sports extravaganza, Singh is only behind the late weightlifter Sunil Joshi who had won 17 medals in the Games’ history.
As Singh is set to compete in two more events at the current Games, she could become the Nepali athlete with the highest number of gold medals on Monday.
However, Singh is keeping it to herself and seems unbothered about such records. “I was not aware of the record [of the medal]. I get to know about that only after being told at the end of each event.”
“I am very happy to be the first Nepali, and on top of that, the first woman to do so. We should encourage women in sports. I feel happy also to know that my performance has inspired other Nepali athletes.”
Congratulating teammate Lama on her silver medal in the 200m butterfly (2:33.16), Singh said, “Duana is doing so well, she is inspirational as well. I am so happy for her and her journey.”
On the final day of Games' swimming events, Singh is scheduled to compete in the women's 100m freestyle and 4x100 medley relay.