KATHMANDU, April 30: It is her unwavering passion for volleyball that inspires Sipora Gurung to continue with the game against all odds. The 17-year-old athlete´s outstanding performance doesn´t give a slightest hint of her ankle injury, which she picked up a few months ago and is yet to recover completely.
“It´s very difficult to play without completely recovering from injury. I often feel like leaving the court but then I remember that I am here just to play. But while the emotions run in full swing, we normally forget all the pain,” she says.
With her relentless efforts and dedication, she has not only established herself as one of the best national volleyball players of Nepal but also proved skeptics wrong who believe that sports is basically a male bastion.
Having won bronze medal at an international event when she was just 12, Gurung lived up to the expectation and won countless accolades in the following years. She was a member of the Nepali women´s volleyball squad when the team won bronze in the 10th South Asian Games (SAG), Colombo in 2006.
When asked about her achievements, she ponders a while and smiles but fails to remember exactly how many medals she has won. Looking at the achievements under her belt, her feats seem endless. The total number of titles and silverwares along with the best-player awards she has won at such a tender age amounts to more than fifty.
The spirited athlete from Fishtail Higher Secondary School, Pokhara, believes that continuity in the sport is the key to success.
"Success also depends on one´s determination, passion and the ability to cope under pressure," says the cheerful teenager, who started learning volleyball at her school six years ago at the age of 11.
She attributes her success to the favorable environment provided by her school and the support from her family.
"Anyone can succeed if they work hard and, that too, not only in sports but in any other field. Nothing is impossible if we work hard," she adds.
She recalls being scoffed at for joining sports in the beginning.
"I was told that sports was only for boys and that I would spoil my studies if I decided to join the field. But, coincidentally, my academic records improved after I started learning volleyball," said the teenager who silenced her critics after passing the School Leaving Certificate last year with flying colors. She scored an impressive 89 percent.
She has now set an example for others to follow and has become a household name in her hometown Pokhara.
The multitalented player, who is a junior national champion in athletics (200m and 400m), meticulously manages her time for studies, sports and her other interests. "It´s no use poring over books for hours if you have no interest in studies."
A grade 11 student, she has currently taken a brief respite from athletics and long-jump, owing to the pressure of studies. "The course is getting difficult so I am focused only on volleyball," she said.
Besides sports and studies, she is very much interested in music. "I like all kinds of music," she says and adds, "I love listening to Nepali bands like The Edge, Anuprastha and Aastha Tamang-Maskey; English rock numbers and songs from Hindi movies."