For over four decades, Nepali athletes have been taking part in the Olympics and returning without winning any medals. Our participation has just been for the sake of waving our flag. It feels bad that countries less developed than Nepal are bringing home Olympic medals. "It is not easy to win a medal, but is possible with immense hard work and perseverance," says Sangina Baidya, the lone athlete that Nepalis are pinning their hopes on for a medal at the Athens 2004 Olympics. Since the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, over two dozen Nepali athletes have participated and so far they've only come back with memories and experiences. "If we are to achieve anything, we should start intensive training now to prepare for the next Olympics," says Baikuntha Manandhar, Nepal's famous marathoner who ran in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
"Athletes and trainers alone cannot do everything, no matter how hard they train," says trainer Narayan Yadab, who adds that they need active support and encouragement from the government and the National Sports Council. Unfortunately, neither the council nor the Nepal Olympic Organisation or the related government department pays much attention to the athletes.
Nepalis could perform well in martial arts and taekwondo. "If not this time, we can hope to get a medal during the next Olympics in Beijing," says taekwodo athlete Dipak Bista, who has already started intensive training and has hopes of bringing a medal home. "We have develop our sports culture in Nepal and if everyone gives us enough support, then we can easily win a medal,"he adds. There has been a lot of encouragement for Sangina Baidya. When she was selected for the Olympics, business organisations came forward and offered full support. She will create history if she returns with a medal.