Aruna Shahi and Biraj Maharjan win top awards
Women’s national volleyball team captain Aruna Shahi and former men’s national football team captain Biraj Maharjan have been named the best female and male athletes in the National and International Players Association of Nepal awards (NNIPA) Tuesday.
Shahi, 27, led Nepal to their second consecutive international volleyball trophy in December last year when they defended the AVC Central Asian Zone Women’s Volleyball Challenge Cup in beating Uzbekistan 26-24, 24-26, 25-15, 22-25. , 15-10 in Dhaka. Shahi’s team had won the previous edition of the tournament in 2019 which gave the Nepalese volleyball team their first-ever international silverware.
NNIPA also celebrated members of the AVC Championship winning team.
Maharjan, one of the most accomplished national football captains, was part of a side that beat Bangladesh 2-1 in the final to lift the Tri Nations Cup in March last year. It was Nepal’s fifth international title and second trophy on home soil. The 31-year-old came on as a 90th-minute substitute for Tridev Gurung at Dasharath Stadium and wore the national captain’s armband for the final time. He retired from international football after the game that ended his brilliant 13-year career.
The duo received 100,000 rupees each.
Shahi and Maharjan were among 27 athletes, 15 men and 12 women, to receive awards at the 16th annual NNIPA awards ceremony. The athletes were chosen from 27 different sports disciplines authorized by the Nepal Olympic Committee. The players were rewarded according to the recommendations made by their respective sports associations based on their performance at national and international level.
Gyanu Awale of Archery, Kiran Singh Bogati of Athletics, Prince Dahal of Badminton, Sushma Tamang of Boxing, Sadina Shrestha, Captain of Women’s National Basketball Team, Rajesh Magar of Cycling, Anita Karki of fencing, Karisma Shah from golf, Bishal Basnet from handball, Anjana Chand from hockey, Rohan Budathoki from gymnastics, Biplav Shrestha from karate and Suman Tamang from rafting and canoeing, judoka Sumitra Rai, Saphal Ram Shrestha from skiing, Anubhav Subba from swimming, Krishna Thapa of shooting, Nageshwar Tharu of kabaddi, Santoo Shrestha of table tennis, Parbati Gurung of taekwondo, Himal Tamata of triathlon and Abhilasha Bista of lawn tennis, weightlifting Kamala Shrestha, Nima Gharti Magar of whusu and Suresh Chunara of wrestling were declared best players of the year.
Palesha Goverdhan received the award for best paraathlete. The 17-year-old taekwondo player, who was born without a palm on her right hand, was poised to give Nepal its first-ever Paralympic medal as she won two repechages beating American Brianna Salinaro 10-0 and Serbian Marija Micev 23- 15. to book a bronze medal bout with China’s Li Yujie at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games last September. Although she lost to Li 12-9 in the Women’s Under 58kg K44 Weight Class Repechage Final, she won the hearts of the Nepalese, becoming the first Nepalese athlete to win two matches at the Games. Paralympics.
Goverdhan also became the first Nepalese athlete to win a para gold medal by beating Iran’s Ebrahimi Roza 6-0 at the 2021 Asian Para Youth Games held in Bahrain last December.
Whusu’s Gharti Magar and world’s highest ranked junior badminton player Dahal have been announced as emerging players. Dahal, 17, was granted seeded status in March this year. Taekwondo player Gurung and Tamata of triathlon received talent player awards.
Also, former track and field coach and Olympian Pushpa Raj Ojha received the Gajraj Ideal Sports Personality Award. The veteran sprinter represented Nepal in the men’s 400 meter race at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He also played for Nepal from the first edition of the South Asian Games (1984) to the fourth edition (1989).
Likewise, Himesh Ratna Bajracharya of Kantipur Daily received the NNIPA sports journalism award.