Nepali Times
Nepal wins golds for junketeering


When the Nepali contingent arrived back from Sydney on 3 October there was no fanfare to herald their return. For there was nothing to celebrate. As expected, all the five Nepali players crashed out of competition in the first round of their respective events.

The Nepali athletes had gone to Sydney to compete with the world's best with only a month and a half of training behind them. Medals were, of course, something they did not even dare dream of. The only hope was that in competing with the superstars they would be able to better the national records.

The hope was not belied. Gyan Bahadur Bohara and Runa Pradhan set new national records, while Chitra Bahadur Gurung bettered his timing.

Before leaving for Sydney, Gyan Bahadur (left) had been confident that he would break the existing national record in 5000m (14.34:43). And he did it with a timing of 14.34:15. Runa improved her own national record by clocking 31.28 in 50m freestyle. Her previous best was 31.79. To her credit, Runa came third in her first round heats, finishing ahead of swimmers from Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Iraq. Chitra Bahadur also did better shaving 0.26 seconds of his earlier timing of 27.28.

But the performances of sprinter Devi Maya Paneru and shooter Bhagwati K.C.'s performances were below par. National record holder Devi had a poor run in 100m. Her timing of 12.74 sec at Sydney was far below her best of 12.17sec. In the 10m air rifle, Bhagwati K.C. could score only 486, compared to her personal best of 488. Sydney 2000 will, however, not be remembered for the athletes' performance. If it stays in memory for long it will be for the number of Nepali sports officials that went to Sydney. Twenty-one officials accompanied the five players. The top brass of the National Sports Council and the Nepal Olympic Committee were there in full strength.

Despite their protestations that the trip was necessary to gain exposure and experience, it was clear that the Olympics was nothing more than a junket for most of the officials. And if proof was needed, the website of the Games provided it. A random search of showed two of them figure as assistants in water polo, a sport that is not played in the country. Of those two, Ajay Rana is a medical doctor associated with National Sports Council and Dhruva Timilsina is the vice-chairman of the Nepal Olympic Committee.

In the end Sydney 2000 only eroded the image Nepali sportsdom had managed to build up with the successful hosting of the 1999 South Asian Federation Games. Beginning with the bickering among members of the Nepali contingent and the shameful attempt to provide the athletes with a pittance of a daily allowance compared to what the top officials allocated for themselves, Nepali sports is a long way off from the professionalism required for world-class performance. And it is obvious who is to blame-the sports bureaucracy. As for our players, at least they went out and gave their best.

How did our players fare?
event overall performance
Runa Pradhan 50m freestyle 66th out of 74
Chitra Bahadur Gurung 50m freestyle 69th out of 80
Devi Maya Paneru 100m sprint 71st out of 84
Gyan Bahadur Bohara 5000m 34th out of 36
Bhagwati K.C. 10m air rifle 43rd out of 49

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)