Asian Games 2023: Nepal's contingent of 253 players aim for 1st ever gold medal
Nepal have never won a gold medal in the Asian Games and have won a total of 2 silver medals. This year, taekwondo, karate and boxing have been identified as potential medal-earners.
Nepal's 253-member contingent for the 2023 Asian Games, set to begin on September 23 in Hangzhou, China, are hopeful of winning a first ever gold medal for the country. However, the country's sports administrators and former sportspersons are not very optimistic.
Nepal's National Sports Council (NSC), the country’s sports governing body, has classified taekwondo, karate and boxing as potential medal-earner sports. The 20 other games where Nepal will field athletes are athletics, cycling, golf, wrestling, weightlifting, judo, swimming, triathlon, wushu, archery, basketball, fencing, shooting, table tennis, badminton, football, kabaddi, volleyball, handball and cricket.
For Nepal, the Asian Games are often considered the biggest sports event. They have never won a medal at the Olympics, and have sent a contingent of around five members in recent editions.
At the Asian Games, Nepal has never won a gold medal. They have secured silver twice and bagged 22 bronze medals. The two silver medals, 20 years apart have come in paragliding (2018) and taekwondo (1998). The bronze medals have come from taekwondo (14), boxing (6) and karate (3).
At the past three editions, Nepal have won a single medal each.
However, according to Prachanda Sharma, secretary of Nepal's Asian Games Preparation Committee, inadequate preparations have hurt Nepal's athletes preparations.
“We wanted to start training from the middle of January but could not do so, as the Finance Ministry at the time released just Rs 20 million. This happened even though Rs 100 million had been set aside for the Asian Games preparations in last year’s budget. We have had to compromise on our training plans and allowances due to the insufficient budget,” he told Kathmandu Post.
2019 South Asian Games twin-gold medalist karateka Manday Kaji Shrestha also expressed pessimism. Speaking to the same publication, he said, “The situation here is dismal. Most athletes have to give up their dreams and search for alternative jobs to earn a living."