Nepal had pinned high hopes on judo at the 18th Asian Games but like boxing, taekwondo and karate, it too ended its campaign on Friday without a single medal in Jakarta.
Nepal had fielded eight judokas in Jakarta and none were able to win a single bout, let alone a medal. They play in the mixed team event on Saturday. On Friday, Shree Ram Makaju, Rabin Shrestha and Punam Shrestha all lost their first round bouts. In the men’s U-90kg division, Makaju failed to stand for even two minutes against Komronshokh Ustopiriyon of Tajikistan. Makaju conceded a wazaari and ippon (the biggest points is sufficient to win a bout) and lost 11-0.
In the U-100kg category, Rabin also faced the similar fate going down 10-0 against Sherali Juraev of Uzbekistan. He also conceded an ippon. Punam played two bouts in the women’s event and lost both of them. In the U-78kg division quarter-finals she lost to Yujin Park of South Korea 10-0. She was lucky to get a chance for repechage after the Korean made it to final. But in the repechage she conceded three sido, the negative points, besides an ippon to eventually lose the match.
Olympian Phupu Lhamu Khatri, Manita Shrestha Pradhan, Sanjit Dangol, Indra Bahadur Shrestha and Devika Khadka had already crashed out in the previous two days. Judo was hopeful of striking at least a medal owing to the recent performance of its athletes, particularly Khatri. The team was also boosted by inclusion of a foreign trainer for the last one year. The sixth Dan Romanian coach Dan Telerca has been looking after the Nepali judokas.
The 12th South Asian Games gold medallist Khatri had been training in Japan for the last two months under the International Olympic Committee and International Judo Federation scholarship. Other players also had a short training spell in Hungary before leaving for Indonesia.
Coaches’ disputes divide players
Disputes among the three judo coaches in Indonesia came to the fore at the Olympic Village as well as in the playing arena in Jakarta. Along with foreigner coach Telerca, Chandra Kumar Dangol and Debu Thapa appeared to have their own say rather than uniting for the team’s cause. Dangol is the National Sports Council coach while Thapa is Nepal Police Club coach. The dispute between foreigner and Nepali coaches was there for everyone to see.
A judo official, who wants to remain anonymous fearing reprisal from the governing body, said the egos of coaches cost dear Nepal. More than concentrating on their games, it only contributed in creating a divided camp. He even said that one of the players demanded Thapa represent her as a coach or else she would not appear for her bout.
Telerca represent Nepal in the players’ box on the first day, but he was forced out the following day paving way for Thapa to take his place. “Pradhan said she would not play if the coach Thapa did not attend the players box,” informed the official. Telerca was furious over the incident and vented his ire on manager Suraj Dotel. Telerca and coach Dangol also came close to a brawl at the Olympic Village before the incident. Even manager Dotel believed that the egos of the coaches somewhat contributed to the players poor showing.
Following the angry confrontation of the coaches and managers on Thursday, Nepali team called on a meeting to sort out the issue. “We have now sort out the differences and Telerca will head the team on Saturday,” said Rim Ranabhat, the chief of national team preparation committee.
Nepali coaches and players however remained tight-lipped over the saga. Nepal Judo Association President Dipak Harsha Bajracharya was aware of the dispute. While Bajracharya was disappointed with the team’s result, he said he will try to find out the weaknesses and work on it in future.
Judo was include in the Asiad since 1996 Seoul Games and Nepal have been participating ever since without any success so far. Like in the last two editions Nepal is set to return home with just a single medal from Indonesia. Boxing won a bronze in 2010 and karate also bronze in 2014. Paragliding, which was included in the Asiad for the first time, so far have saved the Nepali blushes in Indonesia. The men’s team struck silver in the cross country event. Apart from judo’s mixed event, Nepal is still to compete in the triathlon. Both the events will be held on Saturday.Published: 2018-09-01 08:30:37