Tilak Punn
Taekwondo icon Deepak Bista is all set to rewrite the history of South Asian Games (SAG) as he could become the first Nepali to win four gold medals next year.

On Wednesday, Deepak qualified for the upcoming 11th SAG to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from January 29 to February 9, 2010.

He was among nine taekwondo players, including four females, to book berth in the South Asian regional sports competition after winning final selection matches held at the Covered Hall of the National Sports Council (NSC).

Deepak, who won gold medals in the 8th, 9th and 10th SAG, eased past Hemjung Raut of Nepal Army Club. He has equaled the record for gold medals with the legendary runner Baikuntha Manandhar who won three gold medals in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th SAG -- then known as South Asian Federation (SAF) Games.

“I will be playing for the country,” Deepak told “My aim will definitely be to win for the country than to create records.”

He, however, feels the pressure. “Other countries are making heavy investments in sports. So, it would be a tough competition,” he added.

Other men selected for the SAG are Badrinath Basnet of Nepal Army Club (NAC) for 87+ kg category, Ramesh Kumar Shrestha of Nuwakot for Under 80 kg, Dan Bahadur Airy of NAC for Under 74 kg, Ashish Maharjan of the APF for Under 68 kg and Kumar Manandhar of Nepal Police Club (NPC) for Under 63 kg category.

In women´s category, Manita Shahi of NPC, the gold medal winner on the 10th SAG, won the selection in Under 57 category, while Ayasha Shakya of Lalitpur, the silver medalist of the 10th edition, in Under 53 kg, Sabina Maharjan of NPC in Under 49 kg and Yam Kumari Chaulagain of Bara in Under 46 kg also qualified for the SAG.

Badrinath defeated Ramji Prasad Dahal of NPC. Ramesh edged past Dambar Narayan Chaudhary of NPC, Dan Bahadur ousted Bharat Bohara of APF, Ashish beat Anoj Pujari of Kathmandu and Kumar, the silver winner of the previous edition of the SAG edged past his teammate Ganesh Khadka of the NPC.

In the women´s category, Manita had a comfortable victory over Sangeeta Basyal of Kathmandu. “I am training very hard to win gold,” Manita said after winning the selection. “The training is going well, but if got training from foreign coaches we could perform better.”

Speaking about the opponents in SAG, she said: “This time I will compete with totally new opponents under the 57 kg category. However, I will try my best to bag gold.”

Ayasha defeated Apsara Karki of Sunsari, Sabina beat Laxmi Rana of Rupandehi and Yam Kumari edged past Sangita Shrestha of Lalitpur.

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