Posted on: April 27, 2015
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Distressed Nepalese paddlers lose at Worlds

By Supriyo Das

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Distressed Nepalese paddlers lose at Worlds

Suzhou (China), April 27 (IANS) Nepalese athletes, who are currently competing at the World Table Tennis Championships, awoke to the worst possible news as information filtered out of their homeland about a 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck near Kathmandu.

More than 3,000 people have been killed and about 5,000 others injured in a powerful earthquake that struck Nepal at midday on Saturday. Aftershocks continued on Sunday, augmenting the toll, reports Xinhua.

The Nepalese players here are desperate to hear more details from home but Elina Maharjan and Nabita Shrestha had to try to focus on table tennis with the knowledge that their family and friends are facing calamity.

After losing to Greek duo Angeliki Papadaki and Alkaterini Toliou in a preliminary women's doubles match, a crying Maharjan tried to put her feelings into words.

"It's hard to play. I just pray everyone is safe. Some people I know are wounded and some friends are dead. It's very painful," she said.

In the singles event, Maharjan suffered an 8-11, 3-11, 3-11, 5-11 loss to Uruguay's Maria-Pia Lorenzotti.

Similarly, Rabina Mahajan was defeated. She experienced a reverse at the hands of Colombia's Lady Ruano in straight games 2-11, 4-11, 1-11, 6-11.

The deadly quake jolted central, western, mid-western and far-western parts of Nepal, which was followed by at least 15 aftershocks.

Thankfully for Maharjan though, she has heard from her family and knows that they are alive and out of danger.

Shrestha has been upset too, her family escaped death but they know there can still be more dangerous aftershocks.

"It affected me. There could be another earthquake strike at any time and my parents and my family are staying (outside in a tent), so it is quite difficult," she said.

"I've played under stress but not under this kind of extreme stress, thinking about my family who are staying in a tent and cooking outside. How they get the food because everything has been destroyed?"

Another Nepalese player, Deep Saun said the uncertainty and lack of information from his homeland affected him in his qualification loss to Laurens Tromer of the Netherlands but he too was relieved to find out he did not lose any family members.

"It has affected our play because it's been a bad time in Nepal right now. It's bad but we are here to represent Nepal and we will try to play our best," said Saun.

International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) president Thomas Weikert has extended condolences from the sport's community.

"It's really a tragic situation. I talked with the Nepalese girls competing to send my condolences. I saw the pictures on TV; it was really devastating," he said.

"The ITTF family has in its hearts the Nepalese table tennis players and the whole nation as well. We will look to see how the ITTF can help. Nepal is not a very rich country and does not have much equipment. We will definitely see how we can support them."

Belarus' Vladimir Samsonov spoke for the ITTF Athletes Commission.

"On behalf of all the players competing here and table tennis players all around the world, I would like to show our support and send our condolences," said the Athletes Commission chief.

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