Kathmandu: Nepal clinched up the most successful 13th South Asian Games (SAG) with a record in the medal tally winning 206 medals including 51 gold with 60 silver and 95 bronze medals, with a momentous closing ceremony held at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwar on Tuesday. It is the highest number of gold medals won by Nepal in the regional sporting extravaganza.
Boxer Sanil Shahi completed Nepal’s half-century of gold medals, while Nepal’s U-23 team has defended its SAG Gold by beating Bhutan 2-1 in the finals of the 13th South Asian Games Men’s Football event.
Abhishek Rijal and Sunil Bal scored for Nepal in a 2-1 win against Bhutan in the 13th SAG men’s football final, and boxer Sanil Shahi, defeating Indian boxer Varinder Singh in the men’s 60kg category final at the International Sports Complex to win Nepal’s 50th gold medal in the regional sporting extravaganza.
In 1984, the first SAG was organized in Kathmandu, Nepal. With the 13th SAG, Nepal completed its third SAG event in its 29 years history. The next SAG handed over to Pakistan and that will be held after two years.
The Games’ flame at the cauldron was extinguished as colorful fireworks lit up the night sky.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli thanked all participating athletes, coaches, officials and organizers for their contributions towards making the Games a “grand success”.
Oli said- “We are proud of ourselves to have rebuilt earthquake-ravaged infrastructure to successfully host the South Asian Games simultaneously in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Janakpur.” He added that these Games have once again served as a catalyst for unity and friendship among South Asian neighbors through mutual respect and dignity. Sports are indeed the most effective way of uniting people.
PM KP Sharma Oli is scheduled to meet all the medallists along with presidents and general secretaries of their respective national associations and also announce the reward package for the champions.
The President of Nepal Olympic Committee (NOC) and SAG Olympic Council, Mr. Jeevan Ram Shrestha gave credit for the grand completion of the event of all stakeholders, fans and security forces.
The Member-Secretary of National Sports Council (NSC) with the success of the SAG, Mr. Ramesh Kumar Silwal hoped that Nepal would be ready to host now bigger and grander sports events in the country. Silwal also informed that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli will announce a special award package for all the gold medal winners, on Wednesday.
South Asian Games, formerly known as the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games, is a biennial multi-sport event held among athletes in South Asia. The governing body of these games is the South Asia Olympic Council (SAOC), formed in 1983. At present, SAG is joined by seven members of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Similarly, India topped the medal tally with 312 medals including 174 golds, 93 silver, and 45 bronze medals. Nepal wrapped up the Games with a total of 206 medals. Sri Lanka was limited to the third with a total of 251 medals including 40 golds, 83 silvers and 128 bronzes. Pakistan was placed on the fourth with 31 golds, 41 silvers, and 59 bronze medals. Bangladesh collected a total of 138 medals including 19 golds, 32 silvers and 87 bronzes. The Maldives won a gold and four bronze medals. Likewise, Bhutan remained without any gold with seven silvers and 13 bronze medals.
The 13th edition of the South Asian Games ended on a high for the hosts as Nepal recorded the medal tally with 204 medals including 51 gold, 59 silver, and 94 bronze medals.
|Half-century of golds|
Taekwondo player, Saksham Karki made history by winning the 100th gold medal in the regional meet, while athlete Kiran Singh Bogati won first marathon gold for Nepal in 24 years. Golfer, Subash Tamang became the third Nepali player to win two gold medals in the same edition of the South Asian Games.
A sports journalist with BBC Nepali Service who has covered every South Asian Games since 1999, Mr. Niranjan Rajbanshi said-“Preparations for the Games exposed the country’s soft underbelly. But credit goes to them for braving adverse situations to eventually stage the Games that had been postponed twice.”
Member secretary of the National Sports Council, Mr. Ramesh Kumar Silwal said -“We are immensely proud of our achievements,” in his closing speech.
“I was subjected to ridicule when I set our goal for the Games. We’ve not only achieved it but exceeded it”- said Silwal. He had predicted that Team Nepal would win 50 gold medals before the Games began.
The former member secretary of the council, Mr. Binod Shankar Palikhe said-” We all know we Nepali’s are not so well-organized. We often leave everything till the last moment. I can understand how much trouble the member secretary must have been through.”
Nepal South Asian Games Records:
- Swimmer Gaurika Singh was the most successful player of the 13th South Asian Games as she became the first Nepali athlete to win four gold medals on her way to winning nine medals.
- Santoshi Shrestha won 10,000m race to become a first-ever Nepali woman athlete to win the gold medal.
- Triathlon athlete Soni Gurungopened Nepal’s account with the first-ever gold medal of the sport.
- Taekwondo player Ayasha Shakyabecame the first Nepali woman player to win three gold medals in the SAG before Singh overtook her.
- Sanju Chaudhary created history when she won Nepal’s first-ever gold in women’s section in weightlifting
- Sangita Dhami became the first Nepali wrestler to win an international medal in wrestling.
- Minu Gurung became the first female boxer to win a gold medal for Nepal
- Duana Lama was the youngest Nepali athlete in the 13th South Asian Games and the 13-year-old swimmer claimed two silver and three bronze medals
- Women athletes bagged 30 of the 51 gold medals for Nepal.
- Kiran Singh Bogati won a marathon gold for the first time in 24 years at the SAG for Nepal.
- Gopi Chand Parki’s gold ended Nepal’s barren athletics run of nine years, in men’s 5,000-meter race.
A former sports minister, Sharat Singh Bhandari said that the sports authorities and government needed to focus more on giving due importance to sports and athletes rather than the pomp and ceremony of the opening and closing events. As the country has adopted a federal structure, the provincial governments should be handed the responsibility for the development of sports at the grassroots level, he said.