Nepal National Sports Council (NSC) member secretary Keshab Kumar Bista said that participation in the mega events like Asian Games itself was an achievement for the Nepali athletes.
“Participation in the Asian Games itself is like winning medals for players of Nepal,” he said on Wednesday, before the Games officially kicks off in Jakarta on Saturday. Given the past records prospect of winning a single medal appears bleak yet Nepal have fielded a jumbo 185 players in 29 different games.
In the last Asiad in Incheon in 2014, Nepal fielded 204 players in 25 disciplines but returned home with just one bronze medal. Karateka Bimala Tamang saved the Nepali blushes by winning a bronze in individual kata. The Asian is slated for Aug.18 to Sept. 22 in Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra.
Given the gulf between South Asian sporting minnows Nepal and that between China, Japan and South Korea—to name a few sporting giants—it would be a big ask to expect a medal. Also given the Nepali training regime, none of 29 sports disciplines held Asiad-focused training more than six months, athletes can not realistically look for a medal. Let alone rigorous training, some of the games were included only in the last two weeks.
But Bista boasted that the athletes had the best ever preparations for Asian Games, not even shying away to claim that Nepal would return home with their best ever results from Indonesia. Nepal have so far won just 23 medals including a silver and 22 bronze medals in total in their 15 Asian Games participation since 1951.
Nepal only opted out in the second edition (1954 Philippines) and fourth (1962 Jakarta) of the past 17 Asiads. Nepal pulled off just one bronze medal each in the last two editions in Guangzhou ( 2010 ) and in Incheon ( 2014 ).
Nepal struck eight bronze medals during the 1986 Games in Seoul which is by far the largest ever haul at the meet. Sabita Rajbhandari’s silver medal during the 1998 Asiad in Bangkok is the biggest achievement for Nepal till date. “Our preparations have really been sound in comparison to past Asian Games. We will surely get best results than the past,” said Bista, the chef-de-mission of Nepal, without giving details to back up his high claims.
“We are fielding big contingent considering the upcoming South Asian Games set for March 9-18 in Nepal,” said Bista. Bista is pining hopes on judo, karate, boxing, taekwondo and paragliding for medals. Bista said the cost of the Asiad participation was 70 million Nepalese rupee (US$623,000) . “The Finance Ministry has already released Rs 50 million for the Asian Games,” he informed.
Of the 185 Nepali athletes, 129 are men and 56 women. Players will be accompanied by 48 coaches, 24 managers, 27 officials and a translator.