Nirmala Bharati had to go to Berlin to break her own record for half marathon. She finished the 21 km race in 1.18.46-beating herself by 33 seconds.
What's more Nirmala left 3,622 runners from 67 countries trailing far behind as she stood first in her 20-30 age group.
Is Nepal about to break into international athletics with the same fame as the Ethiopians and the Kenyans? With our high altitude and proper training there is no reason why not, after all Nepalis take all the big prizes in the Everest and Annapurna Marathons.
Nirmala is not new to setting and breaking national records. Last year, she set three national records, only to break them herself later. She first set a record time of 37 minutes 47 seconds at the 10km race at the National Open Running Championships in Kathmandu, and broke it with a timing of 37 minutes 21 seconds at the Athletics Championships. Her next record was the Dabali Half Marathon where she finished first with 1 hour 26 minutes 3 seconds only to break it later by completing the same run in 1 hour 20 minutes 13 seconds.
"I started out in school by participating in sports competitions before I ventured into professional running," says Nirmala, 23. In 1994, she represented her school at the Birendra Shield Tournament. Her first run was a 3km race at the Athletics Championship in Pokhara where she finished in 11 minutes 11 seconds and took home the gold. This performance qualified her to run in the regional games and eventually in the national games.
In 1997, Nirmala joined the Mahendra Police Club, which helped her focus on her career as an athlete. Nirmala is like any other policewoman except, her job is to run and get paid for running. At the Berlin event, she won a cash prize of Euro 300. Though prizes for runners amount to comparatively less than those for cricketers and footballers, our national runner says, "Until a few years ago, we couldn't live on what we earned. Now we can't complain."
Next on Nirmala's calendar is the 10th SAF Games to be held in Sri Lanka in August. She will compete in the 5km and 10km races. Says our ace runner with a confident grin, "I've improved my timing and I'm know I will break my record again."