UK Sport in Nepal: International Relations Blog

Published 9 December 2019

Taekwondo Nepal

By Catherine Sweet, International Relations Adviser at UK Sport 

‘The 13th South Asian Games (SAG) have come home to the mountain kingdom of Nepalannounced the presenter (the first Games were held here in 1984) and so began an opening ceremony reflecting the pride that the Nepali people feel around hosting this event. 

This is the equivalent of their Olympicswith over 2,000 athletes from the seven participating countries competing for 1,119 medals in 26 sports.

The earthquake in 2015 caused unprecedented damage in Kathmandu and the stadium was badly affected. Having visited the stadium in 2017, to go back for the opening ceremony was special. It was heaving and we had dancers, fireworks, a flame lighting ceremony involving Nepal’s Olympians....it ran and ran and ran....

The renewed government focus to redevelop and build facilities to enable the event to be hosted in Nepal has been welcomed by the sporting community. The timing has been incredibly tight with venues still being completed days before the competition was due to start, but they have just about pulled it off! In a country with so many competing pressures on scarce resources, sport federations must be creative to ensure that they have funds to develop and compete, especially on limited government support. The Taekwondo Academy is a case in point, seven years in the making the centre was officially opened by the World Taekwondo President earlier this year. When I first visited in 2017 it was a shell, two years later and the Association have used the momentum from the Games to help put the finishing touches to the centre. It is a facility to be proud of.

GB Taekwondo and UK Sport, endorsed by World Taekwondo, have been working with Nepal Taekwondo for the last two years on a development project to enhance the capacity development of Nepal Taekwondo. This formed part of the bid to host the World Taekwondo Championships in May 2019. There have been a series of coaching workshops, a visit by a delegation from Nepal Taekwondo to the GB Taekwondo Academy and an athlete training camp in Kathmandu for athletes targeting SAG, involving British coaches and our leading para-athlete Amy TruesdaleThis gave her valuable sparring time with some quality partners. This visit has provided another training opportunity for Amy and it was fantastic to watch some of the athletes that we have worked with win medals.  

The competition itself proved to be a huge success for Nepal as they ended up with 29 medals which included a record 12 gold medals. The aspiration for the Nepal Taekwondo Association is to be recognised by the government as the number one individual sport in Nepal. Karate are pushing them hard, but these Games may just provide the realisation of that ambition.

This has been a highly productive partnership for all the organisations. Nepal places at 149 out of 189 on the human development index (HDI) but it is a vibrant country, with young people looking to make their mark in the world and seizing opportunities to do just that, attributes that we’ve seen throughout the programme. It is a collective responsibility to challenge ourselves to see the world differently, to embrace different cultures and it is most definitely a positive if through this project we can impact on our own and other nation's athletes and coaches global understanding. We will continue working officially with Nepal until 2021 but I’m optimistic that this is just the beginning of something much longer term.

Andrew Deer, GB Taekwondo High Performance Coach, said: “It was amazing to see the Nepali athletes in action at the SAG. Being host nation has meant so much to all the members of the Nepal Taekwondo Association. It was humbling for the athletes and coaches to thank us for the work we have done with them.  

“It was an honour to witness the pure joy and excitement as they were crowned South Asian Games Champion. Especially as it was on home soil in their own training complex in front of an electric home crowd.

 

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