Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nepal seek historic success in judo

THT Online
Shushila Adhikari (right) and Ranju Rai fight during a training session on Thursday.
Rajendra Chapagain
KATHMANDU: It may be a far cry but Nepal Judo Association (NJA) is aspiring to strike a historical medal in the 16th Asian Games slated for November 12-27 in Guangzhou, China.

Four judokas are undergoing rigourous training for the regional sports extravaganza to realise the dream.

Coach Rajesh Karmacharya said he was training the players make the unthinkable happen. This will be the third time Nepali judokas will be appearing in the regional meet after the discipline was included in the 10th edition held in Seoul, Korea in 1986. Rishi Ram Pradhan and Ganga Bahadur Dangol had competed in 1986. Debu Thapa and Ranju Rai took part in the 15th edition in Doha, Qatar in 2006.

Ranju (women’s 57kg), Sushila Adhikari (women’s 52kg) along with Rajan Joshi (men’s above 100kg) and Deepak Krishna Shrestha (men’s 73kg) will represent Nepal in Asiad this time around. Rajan and Deepak are the 11th South Asian Games bronze winners. A Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) senior volunteer coach Masahiro Maeda is assisting local coach in Nepal’s judo preparation. Masahiro is voluntarily training the Nepali squad for last two years.

With the squad comprising of experienced campaigner, coach Karmacharya expressed confidence of faring well in Guangzhou. “Their (judokas) hard labour and dedication during the closed-camp training has generated hopes of finally winning at least a bronze medal,” added Karmacharya.

“We have good players but their poor physical strength will be a big disadvantage,” said Karmacharya. He also lamented the scarcity of quality players especially in women’s categories. “The fewer women judokas compelled us to chose within the ones we already had, making them play in the weight categories other than their own.”

However, Karmacharya was also hopeful with Sushila. “We expecting at least a bronze from Sushila,” added the coach. A Nepal Police Club (NPC) judoka Sushila had defeated her clubmate and the 11th South Asian Games bronze medallist Radha Devi Rai to confirm her Guangzhou ticket. Sushila overcame a high-profile player (Radha Devi) in the final selection on August 31.

After winning gold in the Expo International Judo Championships in India in 2003, Sushila participated in the first Asian Martial Arts Games, Thailand (2003) and Rajiv Gandhi International Judo Championships, India (2010). “I am confident of winning a medal, provided I am able to increase my fitness level and stamina,” said Sushila.

Deepak — who also played the 10th SA Games — said they would have learnt more had they been provided international training. “Training abroad against hard sparring partners would have at least given us a chance to check our status as well as be familiar with the new rules of the game,” said Deepak.

Rajan will be participating in his second international event after claiming bronze in the 11th SA Games. He was picked up after the preliminary round of selection as he was the only player to have registered in the weight category.

The 10th SA Games silver medallist Ranju was lucky to get the opportunity to represent Nepal after a late withdrawal of star performer Debu Thapa of NPC. Ranju brought home two bronze medals and a silver from India.

After finishing second in the South Asian Judo Championships (2003), the player finished third in the India Cup Judo Championships (2005) and Rajiv Gandhi International Judo Championships (2010). She also won gold in Expo International Judo Championships in India in 2003 before securing third place in the South Asian Judo Championships on home soil in 2008.
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