This recent photo taken from Ratna Jeet Tamang’s facebook page shows his elder sisters Sara Devi (L) and Nangsal Devi (R) as he stands in between them. Photos: Bijay Gajmere/Republica
KATHMANDU, Nov 25: Tamang siblings Nangsal Devi, Ratna Jeet and Sara Devi are well known name in national badminton fraternity since almost half a decade. Nangsal and Ratna are the current national champions in women's and men's section. Sara is the former national champion and is out of action since a year due to knee injury. She went under the knife seven months back and is currently nursing her injury.
Three weeks ago, Nangsal paired with her younger brother Ratna to lift the crown in the mixed doubles event of Yonex Sunrise Pakistan International Series held in Islamabad. Sara is the eldest among the three siblings. Nangsal has never defeated Sara and she was crowned the national champion after Sara was ruled out due to injury.
The 28-year old Nangsal was the only Nepali player to win medal in individual event of badminton during the 12th South Asian Games held in India in February earlier this year. She finished with bronze after losing the semifinal to 19-year-old Indian player Gadde Ruthvika Shivan, who eventually bagged gold medal in the competition. Shivan defeated her countrywoman and Olympic medalist PV Sindhu in the final. Sindhu later won silver in Rio Olympics, becoming the second Indian badminton player ever to win Olympic medal.
Ratna Jeet Tamang
The badminton family
Nangsal won three national tournaments in the absence of her elder sister Sara, who holds equal number of national titles under her belt besides 17 domestic gold medals in domestic badminton. Sara is currently is expected to return to competitive game after two months. Ratna has ruled the domestic court since last six years and has won numerous titles including national championships.
Five members of the Tamang family are all associated with badminton except the mother of the champions. Nangsal's father Dil Bahadur Tamang is a former national badminton player, who is now in their hometown Bhojpur and trains badminton to the local kids.
Inspired by her father, Nangsal picked up the racket when she was nine years old and the youngest member of the family Ratna followed his sister's footsteps since the age of seven. Father Dil Bahadur Tamang was the inspiration for all three siblings to choose badminton.
“Our dad was the inspiration for us to pick rackets at early age. He is not just our first coach but also the magician behind the success we all have achieved so far,” said Ratna.
Ratna's first official participation dates back to 2005 when he arrived in the capital to take part in the U-16 event of the Himalayan Cup. He, however couldn't progress to the second round. His first national title came six years later when he dethroned then Nepal No 1 Bikash Shrestha in the Krishana Mohan National Championship. Since then, he has never looked back.
After starting his professional playing career with Armed Police Force, Ratna currently plays for Tribhuvan Army Club along both of his sisters. “As Nepali players can't sustain by playing only domestic tournaments, I didn't think twice before joining Army,” said Ratna. He has passed intermediate level but hasn't continued his study. “It was hard for me to take playing career and study side by side, so I did not continue my formal education.”
However, his sister Nangsal holds masters degree in management and works at Citizens Bank. She was rewarded with the job in the bank after winning bronze in the 12th SAG.
“I was offered a job after winning medal in SAG. I have taken this job as prize for contributing to Nepali badminton,” said Nangsal.
However, she was offered only a year-long contract few months earlier by Citizens Bank. She is not sure if the contract will be extended or not. She has made up her mind not to choose badminton coaching career once she hangs up her racket.
“I will not opt for coaching once I stop playing. I will choose another field because it's very hard to sustain life through sports in Nepal,” said Nangsal.
Nangsal won her first title in March last year defeating Shiksha Shrestha in the final of Annapurna Corporate Badminton tournament. Later, she also won gold in the Krishna Mohan Memorial Badminton Tournament.
She won back-to-back titles not because she was the best but because her strongest opponent wasn't playing due to injury.
“My sister Sara picked up an injury and had to undergo knee surgery. She was taking rest and didn't participate in those tournaments. I won the titles because other opponents weren't strong,” she clarified.
Sara Devi Tamang
She had been losing all the finals she had reached in the domestic tournament to her sister since 2068 BS. Despite winning titles in the absence of her sister, she thinks Sara's absence in the court has hampered her development. “I am not getting strong opponents to compete in her absence, which ultimately has affected my development,” added Nangsal.
Ratna and Nangsal both hold similar view that their father's love affair with badminton has contributed in their development as players. “I am very lucky that my father and both sisters are in badminton and that has helped me a lot in my professional career. They are the real coaches and judges of my game,” said the youngest player of the family.
Nangsal trains under her sister at Army Physical Training and Sports Center in Lanagkhel every day. “Besides being my competitor, my sister is also my coach. She instructs and also points out my mistakes in the training so that I can improve day by day,” said Nangsal.
“I have lost many games including finals in the domestic tournaments against my sister. She always points out my mistakes when we reach home after the game. She also instructs me to overcome them,” said Nangsal.
“The biggest benefit of have your siblings in the same sports is that one does not need to look for training partner,” added Nangsal. “Moreover, I won't get better training partner than them as they both are very talented players.”
Ratna also praised his two sisters and credited them for his badminton journey. “They judge my game very nicely and suggest me ways to improve my performance. They give me feedbacks which are very valuable for me because no one gives you honest feedbacks than your family members. And importantly, both of them are better players than me and feedbacks from better players always help you to improve,” Ratna concluded.
Sara is still nursing her injuries and is likely to miss the upcoming Seventh National Games to be held in Biratnagar this year. But Nangsal and Ratna have set targets of retaining their national champion title in the same competition.