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Trekking' badminton in Nepal

May 11th, 2017
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Nepal badminton created history when the Himalayan nation won its first international gold medal through their mixed doubles pair - Tamang siblings - brother Ratnajit and sister Nangshal Devi - at last year's Yonex Sunrise Pakistan International Series.

The Tamang siblings notched a 21-15, 21-13 win over Muhammad Irfan Saeed Bhatti-Mehmona Meer to deny Pakistan a clean sweep. This was in October last year.

Earlier in the South Asia Games held in India in February the Nepal women's team also achieved a significant high when they took the  taking the bronze medal in the team event.
Now badminton has been given a shot in the arm by the newly founded Sirish Foundation that would provide scholarships to athletes in Nepal. Badminton is one of the 15 Olympics sports that will benefit from the foundation.

The other sports are athletics, archery, taekwando, judo, table tennis, karate, wushu, cycling, weightlifting, triathlon, shooting, lawn tennis, boxing and swimming.

The Sirish Foundation was launched in Kathmandu by Nepal's Olympics swimmer Sirish Gurung who holds 14 national records. He competed in last year's Rio Olympics and earned some money which he has pumped into Sirish Foundation. 

The objective of the foundation was to find out talented players between 10 to 14 years from all over Nepal and provide them with regular training, accommodation, sports kits, health check-up and education.

However, there will be no age limit for "special talents" and this where Ratnajit and company fit into the bill.  

Ratnajit, 24, who is in the army and plays for Tribhuvan Army Club, is Nepal's six-time men's singles and doubles (with Navin Shrestha) champion - a record which he is proud of. Winning the historic first international title in Pakistan is another feather in his cap.

However, just like any other shuttler in the world, Ratnajit wants to scale greater heights at all level. For that he has to "trek" to reach the peak with the Mount Everest giving him inspiration.

Ratnajit, an army officer back home, was in Wuhan, China earlier this month to compete in the Badminton Asia Championships.= competing in both the men's singles and doubles with college student Dipesh Dhami, who was playing in his first Badminton Asia Championships.
Dipesh is also the national runners-up in the men's singles and the men's doubles with Vishnu Katwal. 

The 20-year-old Dipesh represented Nepal in the 2012 Nanjing Junior Olympics. Nepal were beaten by Malaysia in the quarter-finals in the team event.
For Ratnajit, it was his fourth Asian meet and his best was a top 16 finish in 2015. He has also played in two Asian Games - in Guangzhou (China) in 2011 and in Incheon (South Korea) in 2014.

In Wuhan he failed to make past the qualifying rounds in the men's singles and in the men's doubles the Nepalese pair fell to Japan's No 4 seeds Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda 21-10, 21-4 in the first round.

"We are thankful to Badminton Asia for all the assistance extended to Nepal to raise the standard of the game in our country. Badminton Asia's Asia Olympic Projects have played a significant role in the rise of the game in Nepal," said Ratnajit.

Just like any other shuttlers Ratnajit, Dipesh and Nangshal also dream big - to play in the Olympics. They hope to make the grade to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 
 


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