KATHMANDU, April 24: Nepal´s emerging judo prodigy Upendra Thapa is all set to make his international debut in the Asian Judo Championship 2012 to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from April 26 to 29.
Nineteen-year-old Thapa got selected for the senior game after capping off his impressive performance in the recently concluded Sixth National Games with two gold medals.
During the Games, Thapa stunned the favorite Raj Bahadur Chand of Nepal Police Club (NPC) to win the title of men´s U-73 kg. Thapa´s superb form at the Games has also underlined his potential as an emerging star of Nepali judo.
“He is a promising player. We selected him because he was the best,” said Deepak Harsha Bajracharya, president of Nepal Judo Association.
However, Bajracharya is not expecting the teenager to win a medal in his international debut but is rather interested in grooming him for future events.
“We cannot expect to win medals with short preparation but this exposure will be helpful in the long run,” said Bajracharya. “The gold medalists will qualify for the London Olympics but our aim is the long-term development of Nepali judo by giving opportunities to promising players,” he added.
Another player selected for the event is Sushila Adhikari of NPC. It is the fifth international competition for Adhikari who had won silver during her last outing during the South Asian Judo Championship held in Pakistan about a year ago.
Adhikari will compete in women´s U-52 kg category in the Asian Championship.
Rishi Ram Pradhan is the coach of the Nepali team.
National Sports Council Member Secretary Yuvaraj Lama bade farewell to the players and the coach amidst a function held in the capital on Tuesday. The three-member team will leave for Uzbekistan on Wednesday.