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Annual List Of 100 People To Watch : SPORTS

PRINCE DAHAL

The current third seeded player in the Junior Badminton World Ranking, Prince Dahal is a rising young Nepali shuttler. He was ranked 11th last year and seventh in March 2020 by Badminton World Federation (BWF). Dahal’s first major victory was winning the U-15 Dubai International Series title in October 2018, and in September 2019 he claimed the U-19 boys singles title of the same tournament. He also led Nepal to two bronze medals in Men’s Doubles and Team categories in South Asian Games 2019. Recently, in the 10th Pushpalal Memorial National Ranking Badminton Tournament, Dahal defeated top seeded Ratnajit Tamang in the semi-final and went on to outplay Dipesh Dhami in the men’s single final to claim the national title.

MIRA RAI

2017 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Mira Rai’s story from joining the Maoist rebels at the age of 14 to making her name in the global trail and skyrunning scene has inspired many people around the world, especially young girls in rural Nepal. She is a part of Salomon Running Team and Rai is currently actively involved in developing a new generation of young women athletes in Nepal through her charitable organisation ‘The Mira Rai Initiative’ and ‘Exchange and Empower’ program which is a collaboration with Hong Kong Trail Running Women.

MANDAY KAJI SHRESTHA

Karateka Manday Kaji Shrestha is the perfect example of patience and hard work. After being left out from the squad for the 10th South Asian Games (SAG) in 2006 and again in 2010, his dreams to shine in the regional games seemed to be fading because Karate wasn’t included in the 2015 SAG held in India. Not losing hope, Shrestha continued to compete in various tournaments and won a silver medal in Thailand Open. He also claimed a gold and bronze medal in the South Asian Karate Championship in 2019 before SAG 2019. Aged 35, he finally got to compete in SAG 2019 and won two gold medals for Nepal in the individual and team categories for which he was awarded Male Player of the Year in 17th NSJF Pulsar Sports Awards.

SACHIN BHATTARAI

Listed in the Top 100 Golf Teachers for 2020-21 by the World Golf Teachers Federation (WGTF), professional golfer and Coach Sachin Bhattarai has been involved in teaching aspiring golfers and producing champion golfers in Nepal for more than a decade; one particular name is top woman golfer Pratima Sherpa.
Along with the announcement, his article, Golf – Perfect in all seasons in Nepal has been published under “Stories from Around the World” section in the Winter 2021 issue of Golf Teaching Pro, an official publication of WGTF.

SABITRA BHANDARI

The goal scoring machine, Sabitra Bhandari aka Samba has been tearing through opponent defences whether it is in national tournaments, Indian Women’s League (IWL) or while representing Nepal in international matches. She has won two titles in IWL, one each with Sethu FC and Gokulam Kerala FC, in the last two seasons respectively and was awarded Top Scorer in the 2019-20 season of IWL.

Just 23 years of age, Samba also has the record of being the highest goal scorer (38 goals) for national women’s football. She was awarded Female Player of the Year in the 2019 NSJF Pulsar Sports Awards. She dreams of playing for a European club in the future.

SANDEEP LAMICHHANE

At just 20, Sandeep Lamichhane is a global cricket superstar representing Nepal in various T20 franchises across the world including Indian Premier League (IPL), Caribbean Premier League, Global T20 Canada tournament, Afghanistan Premier League, Pakistan Super League, Bangladesh Premier League and Big Bash League.
The right-arm leg break bowler has the national record of taking the highest number of wickets in the single tournament. He was awarded NNIPA Best Youth Player of the Year in 2017. He also became the first Nepali bowler to take 100 wickets in T20 cricket during the 2020 Asia Cup Qualifier.

NIRMAL PUJARA

Nirmal “Nims” Purja is a global mountaineering personality known for his Project Possible 14/7 and the recent first ever winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2. The former Gurkha and Special Boat Service (SBS) member smashed the previous fastest record to ascent all the mountains over 8000 meters in record time of a little more than six months beating the previous record of less than eight years. Recently, along with completing the first-ever winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2 mountain with nine other Nepali mountaineers, Purja also became the first individual to summit K2 without the use of supplement oxygen. He has been breaking mountaineering records and broke his previous Guinness World Record of climbing Mount Everest, Lhotse and Makalu by completing ascent of these three mountains within two days and 30 minutes.

Awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth in 2018 for his exceptional work in high altitude mountaineering, Purja’s heroics of Project Possible 14/7 and K2 winter ascent along with his rescue stories have been recognised and published in many international newspapers and portals.

HARI BUDHA MAGAR

Born in Thawang, a remote village in Rolpa district, Hari Budha Magar always dreamt of reaching the top of Mt Dhaulagiri and Mt Sisne which were visible from his home. At the age of 19, he was enlisted with the Royal Gurkha Riffles and after serving in the army for 15 years he was medically discharged from the rank of Corporal due to losing both his legs in the Afghanistan War in 2010.

After struggling mentally for two years, Magar went to a rehab centre in the UK where he decided to try his hand at sports like skydiving, rock-climbing, kayaking and cycling. But because he always dreamt of climbing mountains, he took the challenge of mountaineering, reached high altitude locations and ascended mountains like Surya Kunda-Nepal, Ben Nevis-Scotland, Mt Blanc-France, Thorong La Pass-Nepal, and Mera Peak-Nepal with the grade bionic legs attached to his thighs. He became the first bilateral above-the-knee amputee to summit a peak upward of 6,000 metres.

While Magar was planning to scale Mt Everest in 2018, the government issued a set of regulations barring visually impaired and double amputee climbers from attempting to scale Mt Everest. He became a driving force behind taking Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation to the Supreme Court for issuing such regulation and the Court overturned the government’s decision in March 2018. Magar was planning to scale Mt Everest in spring 2020 but couldn’t due to the pandemic, he plans to do so in 2021.

GAURIKA SINGH

Multiple national record holder, Gaurika Singh was termed a rising Nepali sports-star when she won two silver and three bronze medals for swimming at the 2016 South Asian Games (SAG), and few months later she became the youngest athlete to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics at the age of 13. She turned into the nation’s heartthrob and became a household name after winning a record four gold medals in the 2019 South Asian Games along with two silver and three bronze medals for which she was recently awarded NSJF Pulsar Female of the Year 2020.

SONY GURUNG

Having won a silver and bronze medal in the 2017 and 2018 South Asian Triathlon Championships respectively, Sony Gurung wanted to step up and win a historic gold medal for Nepal in 2019 South Asian Games. And win she did. Gurung became the first Nepali triathlon athlete to win gold medal in the 2019 South Asian Games for which she was nominated in the Female Player of the Year category in the recently held NSJF Pulsar Sports Awards. She is currently preparing for Himalayan Xtri, a XTRI World Tour event, which is planned to be held in Pokhara in May 2021.

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