A history of Nepal hosting South Asian Games

Published On: November 23, 2019 11:23 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 23: The South Asian Games (SAG), previously known as South Asian Federation Games is a biennial multi-sport event held among the athletes from South Asia. The governing body of these games is South Asia Olympic Council (SAOC), formed in 1983. At present, SAG are joined by seven members namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Despite being postponed for two times previously, the 13th edition of SAG is all set to go on from December 1 to 10 in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur. The Sports Minister, member-secretary of Nepal Sports Council, and presidents of major sporting bodies and associations have shown their solidarity to make events as successful as possible.

From 1984 to 1987 they were held every year except 1986, as it was a year of Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. From 1987 onwards, they have been held every two years except for some occasions. The 12th South Asian Games was held at Guwahati and Shillong from 5 February to 16 February 2016.

The first SAG were hosted by Kathmandu, Nepal in 1984. 

As Nepal is set to host its third SAG event in its 29 years history, we revisit Nepal’s glorious past here:  

1st SAG, 1984
The first ever organization of prestigious South Asian Games (SAG), then known as South Asian Federations Games, was no less than dramatic after Nepal took the responsibility to host it after the previously confirmed Bangladesh opted out citing various reasons.
Only five sports, football, boxing, athletics, weight-lifting and swimming, were included in the first edition which were held for six days from September 17 to 23, 1984 in Kathmandu. A total of 373 players participated in the event with Nepal’s 105 being the most. Nepal had more participants than India’s 98.
Nepal was praised for its organization despite rain being pertinent pain throughout the events. Out of available 185 medals, India topped the table with 44 gold medals, total 88, followed by Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal in the fourth place with four gold and a total of 24 medals. Nepal won gold medals in athletics, boxing and football.

Baikuntha Manandhar, still regarded as one of the greatest ever Nepali sportsperson, won the gold medal in marathon registering the time of 2 hours 27 minutes 11 seconds. He bested Nepal’s Arjun Pandit who took 14 minutes 32 seconds more to finish second. Likewise, Amit Yadav won two silver medals in 5000m and 10,000m races. Similarly, Jodha Gurung finished with bronze medal in 1500m race.

Nepal’s Pushkar won gold in 48 Kg light flyweight category defeating Sri Lanka’s Ratna Surya in the final whereas Dal Bahadur took first position in 60 Kg lightweight category defeating India’s S Jayaram to make it two golds for Nepal in boxing. Five other Nepali boxers lost in final of respective categories. Ram Awale, Uttam Shrestha, Man Bahadur Shrestha lost in 57 Kg featherweight, 63.6 light welterweight and 67 Kg welterweight categories respectively. Prabin Tuladhar, Umesh Maskey and Prakash Tuladhar were satisfied with bronze medals in 51 Kg flyweight, 71 Kg light middleweight and 54 Kg bantamweight respectively.

Nepal defeated Bangladesh 4-2 in the final of the first ever football final in SAG. Nepal took the lead with an own goal conceded by Bangladesh which the visiting team equalized by Ahmed’s 35th minute strike. Nepal trebled the scoring in second half with Yaibi Ghale’s 51st and 68th minute goals. Suresh Panthi added fourth in the 53rd minute. Ahmed scored his second and Bangladesh’s consolation goal in the 87th minute. Nepal had defeated Maldives 4-0 and Bhutan 5-0 earlier in the tournament.

Nepal won three bronze medals as a team of Amrit Chitrakar, Tulsi Gurung, Jay Gurung and Rajman Tuladhar in the Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay, a team of Ishwor Karki, Rajman Tuladhar, Shyam Gurung and Ongden Lama in Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay and a team of Sharda Lepcha, Archana Thapa, Indira Chamling and Neelam Tuladhar in Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay finished third respectively.

Nepal won four silver and three bronze medals. Sunil Joshi finished second in 90 Kg middle heavyweight with a total of 215 points whereas Jagadish Pradhan won silver in 56 Kg bantamweight with a total of 215 points. Likewise, Ashok Karki finshied second in 60 Kg featherweight with a total of 210 points. Jyoti Poudel, Madan Shiva Bhakta and Samsuddin Siddique satisfied with 75 Kg middleweight, 82.5 Kg light heavyweight and 100 Kg superweight respectively.

8th SAG, 1999
It took four years for Nepal to host the eight edition of prestigious SAG. The events which usually happens every two years, Nepal was unable to meet the deadline for various reasons. However, once it materialized, Nepal hosted a highly successful, on and off-field, SAG event from September 25 to October 4 in 1999. For the second time Nepal was given the opportunity to host games after doing the same previously in 1984.
Nepal collected 31 gold medals and finished second on the medals table behind India which continued to dominate bagging more than 100 gold in back to back editions. Nepal’s historic achievement, finish second which still stands as most highest Nepal has ever been, was largely helped by the fact Taekwondo and Karate were included in the games for the first time. 
A total of 12 events were held during the games, which was two less than previous edition. For the first time in eight editions, the number of sports was decreased. Solely hosted by Kathmandu, athletics, swimming, football, boxing, weightlifting, kabaddi, wrestling, table-tennis, volleyball, shooting, karate and taekwondo were the events for the edition. A total of 1069 athletes participated in the events.

Nepal won one silver and five bronze in the event. Gyan Bahadur Bohara won silver medal in Men’s 5000m. He went on to represent Nepal in following Summer Olympics 2000.  Ya Bahadur Pudasaini, Ganesh Bahadur Rai and Kharshid Ahmed Khan won bronze in 10,000m race, marathon and javelin throw respectively. Nepal women’s team won two bronze medals in relay race.

Ram Chandra Thapa and Prakash Thapa won gold medals in 57 Kg and 67 Kg categories defeating Indian duo of Ram Aanand and Jolo San respectively. Likewise, Ramesh Shrestha, Hari Bahadur, Prem Krishna, Rajan Dangol and Ram Kumar were defeated in the finals of respective categories before acquiring two bronzes.

Nepal won multiple gold medals in this particular event. Ravi Maharjan, Deepak Shrestha, Dhwaj Man Moktan, Surendra Lal Shrestha, Rajesh Shrestha, Krishna Gurung and Ganga Maharjan bagged gold medals in individual Kata and Nepal team Kata in 55 Kg, 60 Kg, 65 Kg, 70 Kg, 75 Kg and 80 Kg categories respectively. Only Nepali to lose in the final was Durga Raj Niraula. Similarly, Nepal swept all the gold in women’s division as well. Nita Rai, Mina Pathak, Junu Rai, Binita Chaudhari, Priti Dangol all registered first position in 48 Kg, 53 Kg, 60 Kg and above 60 Kg categories in individual and team Katas.

Nepal won seven gold and one silver in one of the most successful campaign of the SAG. Out of eight categories, Nepal won gold in finweight, flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and middleweight won by Kishore Shrestha, Ashok Kumar Lama, Koshish Khadka, Deepak Bista, Kamal Bahadur Bista, Ujjwal Thapaliya and Rak Kumar Rai respectively. Nepal only lost the heavyweight final against Bhutan as Pramod Manandhar was defeated by Kun Jeng Thiney. Similarly, Nepal fell to same fate inn women’s category as well. Manju Tuladhar lost against India’s Malini in heavyweight whereas Nepal won gold in finweight, flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and middleweight won by Sita Rai, Sangina Baidhya, Renu Magar, Sabita Raj Bhandari, Bandana Shrestha, Pramila Thapa and Ritu Rai respectively.
Others (Shooting/Table-tennis/Swimming/Volleyball/Weight-lifting/Football)
Nepal won three bronze each in shooting and table-tennis. Nepal won first medal in swimming after first SAFF event. Nepal won gold in Women 4x100m medley relay whereas also won bronze medal. Nepal won first bronze medal in volleyball in women’s category. Nepal collected three bronze medal in weight-lifting. Nepal lost 1-0 to Bangladesh in the final satisfying with the silver medal in home ground.

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