Sports

Class apart: Gaurika Singh competing against herself

- ADARSHA DHAKAL, Nepalgunj

Apr 22, 2019-

Rio Olympics’ youngest Olympian Gaurika Singh was among the late entrants in the eighth National Games.

Three days after coming to Nepalgunj from England where she lives with her family, the Nepali swimming’s teen sensation plunged herself into the short course pool at the Cygnett Hotel and set two national records suggesting she means business.

Since the swimming pool at the Nepalgunj Stadium was still under construction and not ready for the Games, the events were switched to the hotel but the shift in venue hardly mattered for Singh. In the morning she completed the women’s 800m, held in the short course pool for the first time, with the timings of 9:39:22 minutes. Representing Tribhuvan Army Club, Singh left her clubmate Upasthiti Maharjan behind by almost one and half minutes.

She returned for the evening schedule to compete in the 50m backstroke and finished with a time that even left the male contestant behind over the distance. Singh timed 30.85 breaking her own previous mark of 31.31 and was almost two seconds ahead of male contestant Tenzing Gurung, who timed 32.81, also a new national record.

On the back of a supportive family, Singh trains throughout the year and 16 hours a week. Against her at the short course was Nepali swimmers who go blank for six months because the country doesn’t have a swimming pool with heating system so far. Despite running out of competitors, Singh believed she was making herself a competitor.

“Its not necessary that we need to compete with others. The beginning could be slow for us but it doesn’t really matter. We have to focus on our own time and stop comparing with others. It is definitely going to be very tough if we start drawing comparisons, “said Gaurika who is not sure about the number of events she would get to participate in the current nationals.

“I am expecting to participate in eight to 10 events and will set my eyes firmly on national record. I have a big plan ahead because I want to qualify for the FINA World Championships in Korea and make sure I earn enough points to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Japan,” added Gaurika.

But after the World Championships in Korea, which finishes on July 28, Singh would like to have a shot at Nepal’s first ever individual gold in swimming when the country hosts the 13th South Asian Games from December 1-9 this year. Singh became Nepal’s first ever swimmer to win individual medal after she scripted history winning one silver and three bronze in the 12th South Asian Games in Guwahati, India in 2016.

Her silver medal came in the 200m individual medley after she narrowly missed out on a gold. Under proper coaching at a swimming school in UK, Gaurika has managed to try herself in different categories and is now eager to break Nepal’s duck when the regional meet begins in December. “My focus is on backstroke and between 200m and 800m freestyle events,” said Singh.

“But I also have a strong individual medley since I won a silver medal in the last South Asian Games. I would also like to push myself in 200m butterfly but if that is in the schedule for me. We will be competing under home crowd and since my training has very well developed, hopefully I will get to bring Nepal gold,” the 16-year old added.

Published: 22-04-2019 08:38

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