Sandipa Amgai: The power of passion and perseverance

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

Sandipa Amgai: The power of passion and perseverance

Amgai won a gold medal in the ‘First Youth Games’ that took place in 2008/09. That was the starting point, she says, because after that she got to participate in many national competitions

Sandipa Amgai, a 26-year-old taekwondo player from Chandragiri, Kathmandu, started training as an athlete at the age of 12, although her family was against it. Despite not having her family’s support, Amgai chose to remain persistent and is now one of the players representing Nepal in various international championships.

Born and raised in Syuchatar, a village in Nagarjun Municipality, Kathmandu, Amgai’s fascination for taekwondo started after watching students from her village take classes every day, wearing ‘dobok’, the taekwondo uniform. “I always imagined myself wearing a dobok and practicing along with them,” she says. But her father, a retired army officer, never agreed to it. She says he was scared his daughter would get hurt.

Amgai didn’t want to disobey her father, although she knew she wanted to become a taekwondo player. “I suppressed my feelings as a child and let myself believe that it was just a phase,” she says. However, the training took place near her house, and letting it go was easier said than done. She often daydreamed about becoming one of the trainees until one day she finally got a chance.

In 2006, her father left for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and that, Amgai says, was an opportunity for her to secretly join a taekwondo class. “I had to convince my mother but it didn’t take very long and I began my training immediately,” she adds. She got enrolled in Kathmandu Taekwondo Dojang, a training institution in Bafal, Kalimati. “I attended classes early in the morning, and then I would go to school. I often missed the first period,” she says.

Her instructors told her she was a quick learner. In a short period of time, Amgai made a lot of progress, and was also attending a closed training with the national team. The training went smoothly for one and a half years, until her father returned. “He eventually found out about my training and was furious,” she says. She was forced to quit her training mid-way.

“I was devastated,” she says. She had to refrain from participating in several competitions. “Although he meant well and didn’t want to see me get hurt, a part of me was always disappointed,” she adds, “Because he never tried to understand my passion for taekwondo.”

Amgai believed that to be the end, until her father went to Japan for work soon after his return from Dubai. “He knew I continued my training because I used to tell him about my achievements,” she says, “But he didn’t want to hear about it, let alone appreciate my efforts.”

Soon after resuming her training, Amgai won a gold medal in the ‘First Youth Games’ that took place in 2008/09. That was the starting point, she says, because after that she got to participate in many national competitions. She came second in the Narayani Zonal Level Competition in 2009, bagged a gold medal in the Second Youth Games in 2010, and won first position in the first and second Nekos Taekwondo Championship organized by the Nepal Sports Federation.

Although her father could never fully accept what she was doing, she says he eventually understood her love for taekwondo. He took her to Japan, hoping she would be able to participate in international championships. She completed high school, and also continued her training in King Bombs Dojang, a training institution in Tokyo, Japan. But it wasn’t until 2016 that she was able to compete internationally.

She competed in the IFOTC Championship in Portland, USA and bagged a gold medal in 2016, won third place in the 20th Jordan Open Championship held in Barcelona, Spain in 2018, and a silver medal in the Sarawak Borneo Cup International Taekwondo Championship held in Malaysia in the same year. “During my first international competition in 2016, I was nervous and equally excited,” she says. “But I got used to the feeling after a few competitions.”

During the lockdown, Amgai taught herself Pomsae, one of the techniques in taekwondo. “I watched several YouTube videos and mastered the trick,” she says. She won the gold medal in the Kathmandu Open Online Taekwondo Poomsae Championship held in 2020.

Amgai also passed the International Online Referee Course in 2022 and was also one of the referees for the Virginia Cup held in the USA, and 3rd Mount Everest G-2 Taekwondo Championship held in Pokhara. She also passed the Level One Coaching Course from the USA the same year, and was the coach for the Nepalis team in the 11th Asian Junior Taekwondo Championship held in Vietnam, and a trainer at Everest Taekwondo Dojang and Sitapaila Taekwondo Dojang in Kathmandu. Currently, she is training in Japan, while preparing for a championship that is to be held in the USA.

Besides Taekwondo, Amgai is also involved in social work. She has been supporting athletes from the Chepang Community in Chitwan, and has been providing financial assistance to several child care and old age homes in Nepal. In Oct 2022, she also gave self-defense training to the students of Rameshwari High School in Bungkot, Gorkha. She is also studying to become a software engineer, she confesses she has always wanted to hold a degree. “But I will not be leaving taekwondo,” she says. “Either as a player, a coach, or a referee, I will always be involved.”

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