Desh Sanchar Chautari- EP 20

‘Don’t expect medals with mere months of training,’ Jit Bahadur K.C. (Video)

Jit Bahadur K.C. is the first Nepali athlete to win an international medal. His historic feat occurred at the 1973 Asian Athletics Championship held in Manila in the marathon event.

The veteran athlete, K.C. appeared as a guest at the Desh Sanchar Chautari to unfurl the stories of his past and provide his insights on the future of sports in the country.

K.C., now in his seventies, recalls the day five decades ago as he was overlooking the army parade in Bhaktapur. ‘An outlandish man with an imperial moustache running all the way to his ears offered me to join the army’, he reminisces, ‘I came first in the basic training and thus started my running career.’

He shares the peculiar anecdote surrounding his medal-winning performance. He had borrowed a pair of ‘Tiger’ shoes from his friends to participate in the marathon event. Heavy rain befell causing water to rise to knee level. One shoe came loose, he could not find it, so he discarded his other as well and continued running barefoot. Later, the rain stopped, and as the track started drying up, his blistered feet started bleeding. He continued regardless and finished third overall.

He says that he has just the picture of the medal which was captured by Shym Chitrakar; the medal was lost because of the robbery and the effort to get back also went in vain. He had reported to Raj Bahadur Singh, the then member secretary at the Sports Council- just got the assurance “would try finding it out.”

Further, late king Birendra urged the high ranking officials to recognize and honour him upon his historic achievement and provide him with resources for a comfortable life [Byabastha Ramro Gardinu]. Accordingly, Shyam Thapa informed KC that the he had prepared the letter that included Rs. 10 pocket money, house in KTM and farmland in Madhesh. He would soon receive it after approval. But it has never come to fruition.

“Discipline is the key to being a successful athlete”, says K.C., “managing the lifestyle accordingly is necessary to attain any success.” He shares the story of his friend who was equally a promising runner and used to stand second in most of the practices they attended. But, he did not make it to the Olympics because he had fallen to the trick of a competitor, consumed alcohol the night before the selections trial, thus finding himself outside the selection limit.

“The world is prioritizing sports and investing lots of resources into it, but our government expects medals with mere months of training,” he sighs, “all the advancements in sports science and observations of minute details contribute to improve performance, yet here we are following the theories of decades ago.”

He said, achievements are tied to focus and investment. We should train children from an early age for them to be successful athletes later in life. This requires appropriate incentives – free schooling and pocket money. If this were the case then parents would definitely send their children to train, he laments at the current reality and offers suggestions for improvements.