KATHMANDU, Feb 24: Nepal Police Club sprinter Tilak Ram Tharu set a new national record in men´s 200m on Sunday as he claimed two gold medals in the Second Golden Sprint Meet.
Tharu completed the 200m race in 21.71 seconds at the Dasharath Stadium to break the 18-year old record of Ram Krishna Chaudhary. Chaudhary had set a national record of 21.92 seconds during the South Asian Games 1995 in Madras, India.
Nepal Army´s Min Bahadur Chaudhary (22.9 sec) and Armed Police Force´s Hari Lal Chaudhary (25.2 sec) finished second and third in the race on Sunday.
Tharu received Rs 5,000 for setting the new national record. Tharu, who also claimed gold in 100m sprint in the one-day meet, was awarded with the Onta Best Sprinter Award, established in the memory of sprinter Raghuraj Onta. Onta was the first Nepali sprinter to participate in the Olympics. He had participated in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Tharu also received a check of Rs 5,000 for the award and Rs 3,000 each for the two gold medals he won on Sunday.
Tharu won the men´s 100m sprint with a timing of 10.5 seconds. In the competitive dash, Yam Sajan Sunuwar of Jajarkot took the second position clocking 10.7 seconds. Min Bahadur Chaudhary of Army clocked 11.2 seconds to finish third.
Meanwhile, Dil Maya Karki of APF received the Onta Best Sprinter award as she clinched gold medals in the women´s 200m and 400m races. Karki also bagged Rs 5,000 for the award and Rs 6,000 for the two gold medals.
Karki clocked 27.1 seconds to complete the 200m sprint and 1 minute 0.3 seconds to complete 400m. Bijeshwari Gyan Mandir´s Babita Thapa (32.2 seconds) and Manish Adhikari (1 minute 1.8 seconds) of Pokhara finished second in 200m and 400m respectively.
Sabita Chaudhary of APF also clinched two gold medals. She claimed gold medals in women´s 400m hurdles with a timing of 1 minute 10.2 seconds and women´s 100m hurdles with a timing of 18.9 seconds.
Nepal Police Club´s Sabitri Nepali won the women´s 100m as she overtook APF sprinter Pramila Rijal in the last 10 meters of the race. Nepali clocked 12.75 seconds while Rijal completed the sprint in 12.80 seconds.
Nepal Army´s Dasiram Chaudhary clocked 51.5 seconds to win the men´s 400m race. His club-mate Hemanta Dhungana clocked 53.1 seconds to finish second.
Tej Bahadur Sunar of Nepal Army clocked 1 minute 2.4 seconds to claim gold in the men´s 400m hurdles. Likewise, Dhirendra Chaudhary of Nepal Police claimed the first position in men´s 110m hurdles clocking 17.1 seconds.
Nepal Amateur Athletics Association (NAAA) had provided target timing for the athletes before the event. NAAA awarded the athletes whose timings were better than the set target. Tilak Ram Tharu, Sabitri Nepali, Dil Maya Karki and Dhirendra Chaudhary received Rs 3,000 each for meeting the target.
The meet featured five events each in men´s and women´s sections. Altogether 19 male and 18 female athletes participated in the Sprint Meet organized by NAAA and Kathmandu Road Runners Club Alumnae.
Too few participants
NAAA, recognized by the National Sports Council, organized the Sprint Meet on Sunday with cash prizes but the number of participants in the event was alarmingly low.
Tournaments for sprinters with cash prizes are rare in Nepal. However, NAAA´s initiative could not lure a large number of sprinters.
Only two sprinters were seen competing in the hurdles of both men and women´s sections.
"Our athletes have a tendency of quitting events whenever they feel challenged by the upcoming athletes," lamented Sushil Narsingh Rana, the chief coach of athletics at National Sports Council. "Athletes are unaware that nobody can remain at the peak throughout the year. They are afraid to come out of their comfort zone," he added.
Likewise, participation of athletes from outside the Kathmandu Valley and from non-departmental teams was also low in the event.
"We didn´t allocate quota to the regions but we had asked coaches all over the country to bring their athletes if they could challenge athletes in the capital. Very few athletes from outside the Valley competed in the event ," said Rana. "I´m worried by the attitude of athletes rather than the number. Our athletes hesitate to prove themselves even in off-season tournaments," he added.