KATHMANDU, May 20, 2018 - National cricket team skipper Paras Khadka won the Player of the Year for a record fourth time and shuttler Shova Gauchan took the women’s honour of the Pulsar Sports Award - the biggest sports award of the country organised annually by Nepal Sports Journalists Forum.
Nepali cricket had taken a huge stride in the last 2017/18 calendar year and the sport dominated the award ceremony sweeping four out of eight categories.
The 17-year old leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, who has now made a debut in the Indian Premier League, won Youth Player of the Year and Jagat Tamatta was named the best coach.
Hard-hitting allrounder Karan KC walked away with the special award which was given for a single knock he produced against Canada during the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia.
Former footballer and coach Ashok KC was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award, table tennis player Santoo Shrestha stunned Lamichhane in the people’s choice category, while wheelchair basketball and cricket team captain, Himal Aryal was named Para-athlete of the Year.
The 64-year-old Ashok KC was one of the key members of the Nepali national football team that played its first official match in 1982 Asian Games in India. The first generation star is suffering from multiple diseases including depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease but still takes time out to coach young kids.
Winners of the Player of the Year (male and female), Coach of the Year and the People’s Choice were rewarded with Pulsar NS motorcycle while the rest of the winners were rewarded with a cash purse of Rs 50,000 apiece.
Khadka was almost the outright winner in the male category having led Nepal to One-Day International status and on the way giving a brilliant performance with the bat himself. He was the top scorer for Nepal in two crucial tournaments—ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia and World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe.
Tamatta coached the Nepali team that finished runners-up in Division 2 and under him Nepal became an ODI nation. He also became the second coach to win the award twice, a feat achieved by former national cricket team coach Pubudu Dassanayake.
Lamichhane had given a breathtaking performance in almost all the tournaments he participated in -- both for the national and U-19 teams. He collected a total of 84 wickets with 35 of them coming for the senior side. He took 24 wickets in the ICC Asia U-19 World Cup Qualifying to become a Nepali bowler with maximum number of wickets in a single tournament. He was the man-of-the-series in Division 2 with 17 wickets.
KC laid the foundation for Nepal to become an ODI team after he pulled Nepal from the jaws of defeat in a must-win match against Canada in Division 2. Chasing 195 for victory, Nepal were virtually thrown out of contest when they were reduced to 144-9 at one stage.
But KC did the unthinkable with a 51-run partnership with Lamichhane and smashed an all-important 42 from 31 balls to hand Nepal a last ball victory. That remarkable victory ensured Nepal a place in the Qualifiers from where they became an ODI team for the next four years.
Gauchan had teamed up with Dipesh Dhami to bring Nepal a gold medal from the Pakistan International Badminton Series mixed doubles gold. She and Dhami also went on to claim silver medal in the Nepal series of the same tournament.
Shrestha scored a stunning victory in People’s Choice category getting the better of Lamichhane who had made global limelight after becoming the first Nepali cricketer to be bought in the cash-rich Indian Premier League. For the first time, NSJF had collected votes from national coaches and its members that carried 50 percent of the total result. Rest of the 50 percent was collected through SMS and facebook likes.
Aryal, a warrant officer, first class in the Nepal Army, had broken his spinal cord after he was trapped in a Maoist ambush in December 2003 during the times of insurgency. But Aryal came back to life after taking of wheelchair sports and led Nepal to first South Asian Wheelchair cricket tournament title at home. He also helped the basketball team win the South Asian Wheelchair basketball.