KATHMANDU, June 5, 2014 - Cricket was the big winner at the NSJF Pulsar Sports Award 2070 held at Nepal Academy in Kathmandu on Monday as national cricket team skipper Paras Khadka bagged the Male Player of the Year (PoY) award for a record third time and his side took home the Team of the Year award for the second successive year. Sunita Bohara won the Player of the Year award in the female category.
National cricket team coach Pubudu Dassanayake won his second Coach of the Year award and Sharad Vesawkar won the Special Award to round off a remarkable day for Nepali cricket.
Paras, who had previously won the Male PoY award in 2066 BS and 2069 BS, completed a treble beating off competition from his teammates Subash Khakurel and Basanta Regmi, golfer Shiva Ram Shrestha and sprinter Yam Sajan Sunuwar.
In the female category, judoka Sunita left behind weightlifter Tara Devi Pun, cricketer Sita Ranamagar, sprinter Dilmaya Karki and swimmer Sofia Shah for the award.
Likewise, rising volleyball star Saraswati Chaudhary won the Popular Player of the Year award, young football sensation Bimal Ghartimagar was named the Youth Player of the Year, Yadav Kunwar won the para-athlete award and legendary marathoner Baikuntha Manandhar was honored with the Lifetime Achievement award.
The male and female players of the year and the popular player were each awarded a Pulsar motorcycle while the winners in other categories received Rs 50,000 along with gift hampers.
“I dedicate my award to my team,” said an elated Paras after receiving the award.
“It was a remarkable year of achievement for Nepali cricket. We made our mark at the World Cup and I hope Nepal plays on the biggest stage every time. We expect your love forever and strive to excel further in future,” added Khadka, whose captaincy has played a major role in putting Nepali cricket on the global map.
Paras not only proved his mettle as an influential skipper, but also performed consistently throughout the year to lead Nepal to the World T20 and the ODI World Cup qualifiers.
He guided Nepal to the World Cricket League Division 3 title in Bermuda, where he finished as the third-highest runmaker with 176 runs, including a half-century, and also took six wickets in six matches during the tournament. Paras’ 60 runs against Afghanistan in the ACC Emerging Teams Cup was another performance that stood out last year.
In guiding Nepal to the World T20, Paras claimed 11 wickets and scored 232 runs in 10 matches during the qualifiers, including a half-century against Kenya and a valuable knock of 46 runs against Hong Kong.
His splendid performance saw him included in the Best XI list of Cricinfo, a leading cricket web portal, for the second straight time.
Paras scored 41 runs against both Hong Kong and Bangladesh at the World T20 in Bangladesh, and also won admirers with his bowling and fielding.
Meanwhile, female PoY Sunita won Nepal’s only gold medal in the Seventh South Asian Judo Championship. Sunita won gold in the 78 kg category knocking out her Sri Lankan opponent in two rounds.
“I would like to express my gratitude to my coaches and teammates,” said the 20-year-old. “This award is an inspiration to scale greater heights.”
Pubudu saw off U-16 football coach Balgopal Maharjan, volleyball coach Kapilkishore Shrestha, wushu’s Yuvaraj Gurung and judo’s Rishiram Pradhan to collect his second Coach of the Year award.
“This was the third time I was nominated, second time I won and the first time I attended the awards ceremony. This makes the award all the more memorable,” said the Sri Lankan-born Canadian coach.
“I would also like to appreciate other coaches. I know how hard you have worked. All the credit goes to my team, and thanks to NSJF for honoring my dedication.”
Special Award winner Sharad attributed his success to his team and his mother.
“I would like to dedicate my success to my team and my ever supportive mother,” said Sharad, who was born to a Nepali mother and an Indian father.
His mother Himali Vesawkar was given a standing ovation by the audience at the awards ceremony.
“Whatever I am today is because of my family, coaches and team. My mother and father have always supported, encouraged and inspired me,” said Saraswati Chaudhary, who won the Popular Player of the Year award collecting 69% of SMS votes and Facebook Likes. Other contenders for the award were Paras, Bimal, Sofia and Yam Sajan Sunar.
Having earned a reputation as the country’s best quick spiker and blocker, the 6-feet tall Saraswati helped her team, Nepal APF Sports Club, maintain total dominance in women’s volleyball by winning five out of seven major tournaments. She also won top individual awards in two tournaments.
Rising football sensation Bimal, who holds the record for the youngest national player, bagged the Youth Player of the Year award, finishing ahead of cricketer Sompal Kami and Avinash Karn, national swimming champion Sirish Gurung and wushu’s Bishal Sinjali.
The talented youngster made headlines after scoring a memorable equalizer against Pakistan during the SAFF Championship to take Nepal into the semifinals.
Bimal, who recently returned home after training-cum-trial sessions for three months at two top European clubs -- Netherlands’ FC Twente and Belgium’s Anderlecht, has emerged as Nepali football’s greatest hope in the international market.
Para-athlete award winner Yadav Kunwar, who won bronze medal in his very first international tournament during the Fourth WTA World Para-athlete Taekwondo Championship in Brazil, expressed his gratitude to his wife and Nepal Taekwondo Association. His performance bagged him the fighting spirit award.
The awards function organized by the Nepal Sports Journalist Forum also featured several other attractions, the highlights being a brilliant 3D animation, combined with visual effects, and martial arts and dance performances. Renowned singer Nima Rumba and swimmer Sirish Gurung also enthralled the audience with their performances while stand-up comedian Raja Rajendra stole the show with his humor.