Athletes Adhikari, Pachhai win player of the year awardsAthletics’ Gurung wins coach of the year, cricketer Khanal wins youth player of the year and table tennis’s Suwal Shrestha bags people’s choice award.
Athletics dominated the annual NSJF Pulsar Sports Award 2079 as Deepak Adhikari claimed male player of the year, Rajpura Pachhai won female player of the year and their coach Chandra Gurung clinched coach of the year awards during the gala award function at Hotel Yak and Yeti in Kathmandu on Sunday.
The trio were feted for their success at the 16th edition of the Asian Cross Country Championship held in Gokarna, Kathmandu last year.
Cricket's Dev Khanal won the youth player of the year award, while table tennis player Sikka Suwal Shrestha secured the people's choice award.
Athletes Adhikari and Pachhai, athletics coach Gurung, cricketer Khanal and table tennis’s Suwal Shrestha were rewarded with a Pulsar motorbike each.
Three nominees in each male, female, youth and coach of the year categories were shortlisted for the final rounds from eight initial nominations.
There were five nominations in the people’s choice category.
According to organiser Nepal Sports Journalists Forum (NSJF), the winners of the four categories—male, female, youth and coach of the year—were announced on the basis of their performance and outcome in the past Nepali calendar year (2079 BS).
The winner of the people’s choice award was decided through eSewa voting, points allocated by sports journalists and chief coaches of 27 sports associations affiliated with Nepal Olympic Committee and Facebook likes.
Adhikari was a double gold medallist at the Cross Country Championship, winning the 10km cross country golds in both men’s individual and men’s team events. Adhikari, who also set national record in men's 10km race on his way to the gold at the Ninth National Games in Pokhara last year, finished ahead of national cricket captain Rohit Paudel and his teammate Aasif Sheikh.
“I want to dedicate this award to my club, athlete Rajendra Bhandari, who brought me to the Army club, and my coaches,” said the Tribhuvan Army Club athlete after winning the award.
Middle and long distance runner Pachhai secured the women's top honour. Pachhai won silver medals in the women's 10km individual and team events at the Cross Country Championship. Her teammate Pushpa Bhandari and basketball vice-captain Anusha Malla were other nominees in the category.
“I want to remember my family and coaches for showing me the right path and guiding me to success,” Pachhai said.
Athletics coach Gurung guided the Nepali contingent to two golds and silver medals each and one bronze medal in the senior category. He also led the Nepali team to two silvers and a bronze in the junior category. He fought off the award from boxing coach Deepak Maharjan and cricket's Jagat Tamata.
“I have received this great opportunity to stand at this stage because of the dedication and hard work of the players. I also want to thank the NSJF family for recognising my efforts,” Gurung said.
Nepal national U-19 cricket captain Khanal led the Nepali youth team to the 2024 ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup after eight years as the champions of Asia Regional Qualifier. Athletics’ Ram Maya Budha and boxing’s Sushma Tamang were also nominated for the youth award.
“I am feeling very proud to have received this honour. I thank my family, coaches, supporters, friends and everyone who supported me during my cricketing journey,” Khanal said.
Sikka Suwal Shrestha, who left behind footballer Ananta Tamang, volleyball player Niruta Thagunna and karateka Biplav Lal Shrestha for the people’s choice award with 44.8 percent votes, won the Stag Global Champions League last year.
"It’s an honour to be nominated here and win this award. I want to thank my coach Purushottam Bajracharya for always motivating me," said Suwal Shrestha, who is also the national champion at the Ninth National Games and a bronze medallist at the 13th South Asian Games.
Photographer Sudarshan Ranjit bagged the special award. Ranjit, the winner of the ICC Photo of the Year award during the ICC Global Awards 2008, is also a sports campaigner and has remained active in sports photojournalism for more than four decades.
Paraolympian Maiya Bisunkhe, who was born without a right hand, claimed the para-athlete honour. Bisunkhe, a gold medallist at the 2006 National Championship, represented Nepal in the 2009 Asian Youth Para Games in Japan, 2010 Asian Para Games in China and 2012 London Paralympics.
-Pradhan honoured with lifetime achievement award-
Rajendra Kumar Pradhan, Nepal's first weightlifter to participate in the Olympics, was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The 69-year-old Pradhan, who cannot speak or hear, has been actively involved in sports for the past five decades.
Also a bodybuilder, Pradhan’s sports journey began at the age of 17 when he won the titles of Mr Kathmandu and the Strongest Man of Kathmandu. Pradhan made history by becoming Nepal's first weightlifting champion in 1978. Two years later, he further solidified his legacy by becoming the first Nepali weightlifting Olympian at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.
Pradhan’s dedication to the sport extended beyond his own achievements. He was a weightlifting coach and referee at the 1990 Beijing Asian Games, the 1999 South Asian Games in Kathmandu, and the 2006 South Asian Games in Sri Lanka.
-Chan Fai feted with Asian Sports Journalist Award-
Chinese sports journalist Cheu Chan Fai, also known as Raymond within the sports fraternity, was honoured with the Asian Sports Journalist Award. Chan Fai, 66, has been actively engaged in sports journalism for three and a half decades. He has covered numerous sports events since the 1988 Seoul Olympics and has the distinction of covering five FIFA World Cups, beginning with the 1990 Italia. He has covered four editions of Asian Games since 1990.
Chan Fai is a pioneer in youth sports reporter training programmes in Asia. He served as the former president of the Hong Kong Sports Press Association (HKSPA) and currently acts as the chief mentor of the International Sports Journalists Federation (AIPS).
A prominent figure in Asian sports journalism, Chan Fai has served as the first vice president in AIPS Asia. Presently, he holds the position of senior project manager at Hong Kong-based NOW TV and also serves as the general manager of Fukushin Production Hub, dedicated to sports production in Asia.