KATHMANDU, May 26: Manita Shrestha Pradhan on Friday secured a historic victory for Nepal in the Asian Judo Championships 2017, becoming the first woman judo player from Nepal to win a bout in the competition dubbed as 'Olympics of judo', according to a statement issued by Nepal Judo Association.
She defeated K Kwok of host Hong Kong in the first round of women's U-57 kg category to secure victory for Nepal in the Asian level after 29 years.
Back in 1988, Rishi Ram Pradhan had defeated an opponent from Macau in the Asian Judo Championship held in Damascus, Syria, the statement further reads. No Nepali woman had ever won a bout in the Asian Championships before, according to Nepal Judo Association.
Deputy General Secretary of Nepal Judo Association (NJA) Surya Narayan Shrestha informed that the only other occasion when Nepal secured victories in the Asian level was in the 1986 Asian Games held in Seoul, South Korea. Ganga Bahadur Dangol had defeated a Kuwaiti opponent as well as an opponent from the Philippines then.
On Friday, South Asian Games silver medalist Manita played full time scoring wazari point to beat her opponent from Hong Kong, the visiting Nepali team's coach Prithvi Alok wrote in an email to Republica.
Seventeen-year-old Manita subsequently lost her next match against Mongolian opponent S Dorjsuren, who scored a wazari and an ippon, effectively ending her hopes of winning medal in the tournament.
Despite being unable to fetch any medal, NJA Deputy General Secretary Shrestha says that the promising display of Nepali players signaled the revival of judo in the country.
Shrestha is also the personal tutor of Manita, who is living in a children's shelter called Prisoner's Assistance Mission as her parents are serving jail terms.
"You cannot judge these children by the deeds of their parents," Shrestha had told Republica in an earlier interview. "She has created her own identity," he added.
Manita is currently studying in Bal Bikas School in grade 10.
Meanwhile, Olympian Phupu Lhamu Khatri lost her first round match against J. Li of China. The Chinese player earned a wazari point while Phupu was given a sido (foul) in the women's U-63 kg category.
Four other Nepali players also lost their respective bouts in the competition.
Nepal's Indra Shrestha (U-66 kg) lost to Y Zromakanov of Kazakhstan, Kiran Gadel (U-60 kg) was defeated by Y. Park of North Korea and Sanjit Dangol (U-73 kg) lost to M. Rebahi of Qatar in the men's section while Lila Adhikari (U-52 kg) was beaten by D Park of South Korea on the basis of osaekomi (ground technique).
Mohan Sunuwar, another Nepali player among the nine-member team which also includes a coach and a manager, will compete against G Chow of Singapore on Saturday.
The official website of International Judo Federation states that altogether 242 players from 28 Asian countries are competing in the event that will conclude on May 27.
Record maintained by the IJF shows that Nepali players have played 37 bouts in the Asian Championships securing just one victory before this event.