London 2012: Catching up with Nepali Olympians

I couldn’t attend the London 2012 opening ceremony or any games during the Olympics. But I did get to meet the Nepali athletes who participated in the games. It was great just to be in London and experience the festive mood.

Sitting with the Nepali athletes in an informal setting, talking about the games and having daal-bhaat in Stratford was the highlight of my day.

As the summer Olympics concludes today, and the athletes are packing their bags, they reflected on the days they’ve spent in London: training and also touring.

“I thought London would be cold,” said Sneh Rajya Laxmi Rana, 18-year-old shooter. “I carried warm clothes, but it’s hot here.”

And weather has been pretty generous in London throughout the games, at least for most of the part and especially for the opening ceremony.

While an estimated 900 million viewers were watching the games worldwide, Nepal’s five best athletes were representing the hopes and dreams of 29 million Nepalis at the Olympic stadium in Stratford.

“I was scared,” said Prasiddha Jung Shah, swimmer and flag bearer at the ceremony. “I was telling myself I better not fall down.”

They were exuberant as they shared their story of glory of being a part of a historic moment.

While Shreya Dhital, 17-year-old swimmer was trying to catch Prasiddha’s pace in her heels, another athlete Pramila Rijal said she was enjoying looking the diversity in the arena. She said she was busy looking at all the national costumes.

“I really liked Nigeria’s,” she said.

But while all eyes were on them, their eyes, Tilak Ram Tharu, representing the country in athletics, said he was trying to get a glimpse of the Queen.

The following days, our Nepali athletes gave their best. They participated in their respective sporting events. They competed. However, they were not successful in taking home any medals.

There is a lot of pressure, and the athletes said they tried to live up to the expectations. They gave all they could, and they did their best, and that’s what it matters in sports or any field.

Despite year-round practise in Nepal, they put on a performance and have successfully qualified to come all the way to London to represent Nepal.

“You can’t let that [loss] get you down,” Shreya said. “You have to lose many times to get to this place. I gave it all in that pool.”

Sneh, who participated in shooting, said that though she felt she gave her 100 percent, she could have done more.

“There’s always a next time,” she said, determined to fight back.

A confident Shreya chimes in and says, “After all we are Olympians now.”

Though not medals, the Nepali athletes are taking home memories of the games and the city that hosted it.

Apart from the games, a lifelong memory for all the athletes, Tilak said he will remember his time at Leeds Castle.

For Pramila, she is taking home a fun memory of taking pictures with the wax statue of Cristiano Ronaldo at Madame Tussauds London.

Prasiddha is never going to forget training in the same pool with Michael Phelps, one of the greatest swimmers in the history of Olympics.

And for Sneha, a hardcore tennis fan, her trip to Wimbledon is special.

But more than that, she realized one of her biggest dream apart from winning an Olympic media.

The 18-year-old met her favorite sport stars: Novak Djokovic.

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Read the BBC’ story on Nepal’s first Olympic athlete who ran barefoot in the 1964 Tokyo games. It was Nepal’s first participation in the Olympics. 

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