Who Dat?

Back in the 80s, long before the X-Games existed, Tom Haig traveled the world as an extreme athlete. He visited more than 50 countries as an international high diver, doing multiple somersault tricks from over 90 feet.

That life came crashing down one Sunday morning in 1996. While training on his mountain bike, he smashed into the grill of a truck and became paralyzed from the waist down. But less than a year later he completed a 100-mile ride on a hand-cycle and traveled by himself to Europe and the Middle East.

Since then he has continued to travel the world as a consultant, writer and video producer. He spent six months launching a Tibetan radio station in the Himalayas and shot documentary shorts on disability in Bangladesh, France, Albania, Ghana and most recently Nepal.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Nepali Disabled Sports

As of last Saturday, I have been hired as personal coach for the Nepalese entrant in the 100-meter freestyle and 100-meter breast stroke at the Rio Paralympics. I got this prestigious job while swimming with one of Nepal’s Paralympians last Saturday at a pool high above Kathmandu. While this sounds quite prestigious there is no money, no trip to Rio and, in fact, I actually have to pay to enter the pool. The swimmer in question has also never really worked out and isn’t quite sure how either stroke works. She saw me chugging out my weekly 1650 and asked for help.

Champions will train in this pool!

Although there are exceptions, this is how Nepalese disability sport works. The roads are so torn up and congested in this country that there really is no place for a hand cyclist or a chair rider to train. It’s quite similar to how my dad explained how the track team at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee worked in the 50s: “For practice we ran around the block. Then on Friday there were track meets.”

There also is very little quality gear to use. A few weeks back I was in a 5K race, but nobody had anything resembling a racing chair. The winner just pumped their super-heavy iron daily rides through the course, hit the tape, then piled into cabs or vans and went home. In rich countries everyone shows up in their daily ride, then transfers into a slick racing chair or an 18-speed hand cycle. When I train for a race, I will put on thousands of miles on perfect roads or trails and be in tip top condition for the start. In Nepal you go with what momma gave you.

(Full wrap up of the 5K Race)

One of my co-workers, Rishi Ram Dhakal is the current president of the Nepal Spinal Cord Injury Sports Association (NSCISA). As in all things political in Nepal there is a split in the disability sports community. The NSCISA offers competitions to spinal cord injured athletes in swimming, track & field, basketball, table tennis, cricket and chess. They’ve even dabbled in water polo. They started offering national championships in 2010 and fielded Nepal’s first wheelchair basketball and cricket teams the same year.  On the other hand, the Nepal Paralympic Committee runs swimming, track and power lifting competitions for all disabled athletes  – and has tickets to Rio.

There are also other sports organizations than run competitions, like the 5K race which was run by the Nepal Healthcare Equipment Development Commission. If you are looking to this post to sort it out, you might as well stop right here, because I have no idea how any of it works.

But I’ve been able to attend one track and field event, a few basketball practices, two swimming workouts and the opening of the National Table Tennis center. I’ve also participated in some schoolyard cricket and volleyball.

Women are an integral part of Nepali disabled sports
From what I can tell the basketball team and the table tennis federation have the best facilities and equipment. They are the best trained and most successful athletes. The basketball teams are sponsored by the Danish Disabled Sports Association and there are ten brand new basketball chairs so players don’t have to destroy their daily chairs. They took 2nd in the subcontinent games in 2013. 

There are outdoor ping pong tables all over Nepal so it’s a very popular sport. There is no difference in equipment or rules from able body ping pong so it makes sense that it’s thriving. As a weird Nepal coincidence (they happen all the time here) the former national table tennis champion owns a sports and music shop in my town, Suryabinayak. He sold me my two guitars the first week I was in town and I hadn’t seen him since. When I was playing piano at the Table Tennis Center opening (many miles from Suryabinayak) he came up to the stage and enthusiastically greeted me. I meet tons of people here so I just waved and kept playing. It wasn’t until I sat down for the presentation that my friend re-introduced us. I nearly shat my pants when I figured it out.

Me, Deepak K.C., the architect of the new table tennis center, and Ram, the former national champ and the guy who sold me my guitars!

Wrap up of opening of the National Disabled Table Tennis Center

But, when I say best-trained, it’s not like any of these athletes are well-trained at all. A US Olympian will usually spend 40-50 hours a week doing something with their sport. These athletes are lucky if they can spend 5-10 hours training.

But what they lack in sophistication, they more than make up in team spirit and inclusion. If there is a sporting event, you can bank on at least 100 persons with disability showing up to participate or watch. Aside from protest marches they appear to be the major social functions of the disability community. And it’s really great to see women participating in all sports and being championed by the media just as much as their male counterparts. It’s also a place where caste and disability level are uniformly ignored.

Not only are Nepali disabled athletes participants, they are also crazy cricket fans!

So you won’t be seeing any Nepalese athletes taking home any medals in Rio, but look out for a strong showing from that Table Tennis team in 2020!


  1. We salute to all, with this courage and high positive level to do something and make it workable for all ways to be some motivation for world.

    we all want to support disable athletes and HVR sport and Harshavardhan Reddy do that.
    check out :-

  2. It has fully emerged to crown Singapore's southern shores and undoubtedly placed her on the global map of residential landmarks. I still scored the more points than I ever have in a season for GS. I think you would be hard pressed to find somebody with the same consistency I have had over the years so I am happy with that. 스포츠티비

  3. Really I enjoy your site with effective and useful information. It is included very nice post with a lot of our resources.thanks for share. i enjoy this post
    New prescription or renewal

  4. It has fully emerged to crown Singapore's southern shores and undoubtedly placed her on the global map of residential landmarks. I still scored the more points than I ever have in a season for GS. I think you would be hard pressed to find somebody with the same consistency I have had over the years so I am happy with that. 안전놀이터

  5. I am overwhelmed by your post with such a nice topic. Usually I visit your blogs and get updated through the information you include but today’s blog would be the most appreciable. Well done! 스포츠티비

  6. Hey there! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!
    cash for cars Sunshine Coast
    Cash for Cars Gold Coast

  7. The tutorial is very helpful for a first timer like me, by the way if you could have given a tutorial on creating a free website, it would have been very helpful for newbies like me.
    Thank you
    car wrecker Adelaide
    cash for cars Adelaide

  8. Great post. I used to be checking constantly this weblog and I am inspired! Extremely useful information specially the ultimate part :) I maintain such info much. I used to be seeking this particular information for a very lengthy time.
    Thank yyou and good luck.
    cash for cars brisbane
    car disposals brisbane

  9. Simply want to say your article is as surprising. The clearness in your post is simply great and i could assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the enjoyable work.
    cash for cars gold coast
    scrap car gold coast

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Wow, that was strange. I just wrote a really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well, I'm not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!
    cash for cars sydney
    car removal sydney

  12. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.
    car removal Brisbane
    cash for cars caboolture

  13. Cool one! Interesting informations over this web. It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.| I could not resist commenting. I ‘ve spent some hours looking for such tips. I’ll also share it with a couple of friends interested in it.
    skip bin hire brisbane

  14. I would like to thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this website. I am hoping to see the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own blog now ;).
    cash for cars hobart
    cash for scrap cars hobart

  15. It’s actually a great and also handy section of details. I am just fulfilled that you simply contributed this helpful info along with us.. Be sure to keep us knowledgeable similar to this. Thank you for expressing.
    cash for cars brisbane
    top cash for cars brisbane

  16. We Buy Vehicles provide customers a great opportunity to get rid of their old unwanted car fast. We help customers all over Victoria by selling their cars and giving cash in return. Our services include car wrecking, car removal, cash for cars, and eco-friendly recycling.

    cash for cars gold coast

  17. A1 Wreckers is reliable cash for car business in the Brisbane area. We believe that customers' time should be spent doing things they want, not spending time thinking of ways to get top cash for their car on the market.

    car buyer logan

  18. Cash for Cars Logan understand how difficult car selling can be. With our processes even people with no experience can sell car and get good rates in return.

    cars for cash logan

  19. Canberra Cash 4 Cars was started to fulfill the gap in the market for cash for scrap car services. End-of-life vehicles were piling up in the area with only a few places for them to be sold.

    People had to pay high towing prices to take their cars to junkyards and they were paid below-average amounts for them. So to resolve this issue CanberraCash4Cars came into existent, with one simple aim to help people sell their cars fast.

    Car Removal Canberra

  20. Salisbury Car Removals started their journey with just one scrapyard and an aim to become Australia’s top car removal service. We have grown exponentially ever since. Now we are full-fledged cash for car service providing a variety of services such as car removal, cash for cars, car wrecking, and more.

    salisbury wreckers near me