Physically challenged athlete defies odds to win gold
KATHMANDU, Sept 2: While the Paralympics are under way in London, one Nepali athlete was missing the Games for mainly two reasons.
First, she was too young to qualify for the London Games and, second, she was participating in a competitive match this weekend with other athletes, who, unlike her, had no physical disability.
Pushpa Bhandari raised quite a few eyebrows on Saturday as the thirteen-year-old with deformed legs defied all odds to win gold in the Second NeCOS All Nepal Judo Championship held at Multipurpose Martial Arts Centre, Nayabazar.
“There is no need for her to participate in the games for para-athletes because she is good enough to compete with top athletes of her weight category,” said judo coach Manoj KC.
Bhandari´s coach Mohan Bam said that she pinned down her opponents in most of the games of girl´s U-40 kg weight category while she scored a knockout-equivalent ippon score in the final to claim gold.
Sheltered by a children´s home HOPAD (Helpless, Orphans, Poor, Affected and Dalit Child and Women Promotion Society), Bhandari started learning judo a few years ago after the game was introduced to the helpless children on the initiative of judo coaches KC, Rajesh Karmacharya and Mohan Bam.
Another children´s home PAM won the team championship title of the tournament contested by 277 players of 20 teams. PAM finished first with eight golds, four silvers and two bronzes.
Goldmedalists Niranjan Tamata (U-20 kg) of DOCS and Mamita Pradhan (U-48 kg) of PAM were adjudged the best players in the boys´ and girls´ section respectively.
Pawan Rana was another outstanding player in the boys´ open weight category but the diminutive player couldn´t win the title against his opponent having the advantage of greater weight. Sudip Dangol claimed the title instead.
Umesh Magar, whose brother Ramesh is a national champion, lived up to the expectation winning gold in U-55 kg category. Likewise, Sameer Khadka (U-50 kg) of GEMS, Anil Mandal (U-45 kg) of PAM, Indra Bahadur Shrestha (U-40 kg) of PAM, Roshan Dong (U-35 kg) of PAM, Laxman GC (U-30 kg) of HOPAD and Rabin Banta (U-25 kg) of OCCID won gold medals in their respective weight categories in the boys´ section.
In the girls´ section, Namrata Subedi (open weight category) of MMAC, Indira Bhujel (U-52 kg) of WCIM, Puja Shristav (U-44 kg) of PAM, Bishnumaya Waiba (U-36) of DOCS, Swastika Subedi (U-32 kg) of PAM, Niva Yadav (U-28 kg) of PAM and Ruksana Khatun (U-24 kg) of PAM clinched golds each.
The tournament was organized by Nepal Confederation of Sports (NeCOS), the sports wing of CPN-UML.