KATHMANDU, April9: Karishma Karki created history in Nepali sportsdom, on Thursday, by becoming the first Nepali athlete to win 12 gold medals at a sports meet. The 17-year-old swimmer added four more golds to her Wednesday’s tally of eight when she won the 100-meter backstroke, the individual medley, the 100m breaststroke and 50m freestyle competitions.
With her total of 12 gold medals, Karki broke the previous record of nine gold medals, which was held by Nayana Shakya, Karki’s national teammate and competitor in the pool; Shakya had achieved the feat in the Fourth National Games in 2000.
The aqua princess was ecstatic when she realized what she had achieved. “I am very happy; nothing I’ve done compares to this achievement,” she said. “I will try to improve my performance in future tournaments, and my dream is to win at least a bronze at the South Asian Games.”
Karishma Karki during 200m IM.
But while every story of victory overshadows the inevitable story of defeat that the vanquished have to live through, Shakya, was nevertheless extremely gracious in her defeat.
Karishma’s Gold Medals
- 200m Breast-stroke
- 100m Butterfly
- 50m Backstroke
- 100m Freestyle
- 200m Freestyle
- 200m Backstroke
- 50m Butterfly
- Women’s relay
- 200m Individual medley
- 100m Backstroke
- 100m breaststrokes
- 50m freestyle
“Records are made to be broken, and I am happy that it’s broken now,” Shakya told myrepublica.com. “I am satisfied that my record stood tall for more than a decade; what more can I ask for?”
Shakya actually did have the opportunity to halt Karki’s streak and defend her record. But unfortunately for Shakya, she had to withdraw midway through the individual medley race.
The going hasn’t been all that good for Shakya. She has had to stay away from many of the events in the pool because she is running a fever. “I am sad that because of my health I have not able to perform at the level that I want,” said Shakya.
And although Shakya’s absence can be said to have made it easier for Karki to haul in the golds, one cannot take away from Karki’s achievement. One is thus still inclined to ask, what’s the reason for Karki’s dominating the way she has? To find the answer to that question, one need not probe beyond the circle that constitutes Karki’s immediate family—her father, Ishwor Karki, beaming with pride beside his daughter should say it all. Ishwor Karki is the head coach for the Nepali swimming team, and he hasn’t missed any race that his daughter has participated in, and on Thursday he was there yet again to share the glory.
“There could be no father who would not be proud of his child’s achievements,” he said. “And I am very happy today.”
Ishwor Karki also coaches Shakya, and believes that if the Nepali swimmers are provided with the facilities that will allow them to train throughout the year, the current crop of swimmers can make a splash even at bigger venues. In fact, the coach believes if the grounds are right, Nepali swimmers could very well win medals at South Asian swimming meets.
But for that to transpire, the athletes must first be given a helping hand.“For six months a year, our swimmers cannot train because we don’t have a heated swimming pool,” he said. “If the Sports Council were to provide us with a heated pool, we could easily win a gold at the South Asian level,” he guarantees.
A statement that bold should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt, but maybe Ishwor Karki knows what he’s talking about: Besides Karishma, her three other siblings have all been national-level swimmers; her younger brother, Kiran, at the tender age of 9 is already a participant in this year’s games; and her older brother and sister too used to compete at the national level. Thus with the Karkis leading the way, who’s to say? Maybe Karishma Karki, given all that she has achieved, or maybe someone else currently under the tutelage of Karki senior, will finally do all Nepalis proud at foreign meets.