avid Belle and his comrades at the Yamakazi could not have foreseen how much influence they would have on a young rural Nepali boy when they started the Parkour movement.
Indeed, no one could have known this boy from Khotang in eastern Nepal would set two Guinness World Records in two years for the sport developed from military obstacle course training.
Dinesh Sunar broke the record for the most backward somersaults against a wall in 30 seconds in January this year, managing a staggering 16 somersaults, beating the previous record by leaps and bounds. Last year he also did 18 back flips to set the record for the most twisting backflips off a wall in one minute.
So, what are Parkour and Freerunning? Let’s hear it from the man himself: “Parkour is an act of going from point A to B using the obstacles in the path to increase efficiency. And Freerunning is using the movements skillfully to express ourselves.”
These days, when Sunar is not busy with his police duties he uses Kathmandu as his training ground. The 25-year-old, known as ‘Parkour Dinesh’ also works as a stuntman in movies, having performed in 15 Nepali and one Bollywood movie.
Sunar started attempting flips and jumps off mounds of construction sand on the banks of the Manohara River in Kathmandu. “At that time I didn’t know what I was doing had a name, I just got together with few of my friends and jumped off high places,” recalls Sunar, who only found out it was called Parkour after watching videos on YouTube.
When he moved back to his hometown in Khotang, he continued to practice. When the internet became available, he relied on online videos for inspiration.
Things took a dramatic turn when Sunar got an opportunity to perform Parkour at a competition in Khotang. Police chief Sanat Kumar Basnet of the Armed Police Force spotted his talent and brought him to Kathmandu to put him under the tutelage of sports in-charge Prem Kumar Shrestha and coach Rajeshwor Man Sthapit. Sunar started learning gymnastics and bagged two gold medals in the national games.
But it was Parkour where his passion was. “I cannot remember the number of times I was scolded and punished for doing Parkour in the middle of gymnastics practice,” smiles Sunar. The rules for twisting backflips are quite specific: each flip must be a full mid-air 360 degree backward rotation, and the person must also rotate the body 360 degrees in a barrel-roll twist before landing, facing the wall. When his application was approved, Sunar was required to do at least 15, he did 18.
The inspiration to attempt a world record came when he was browsing the web and saw Parkour videos. “I thought to myself, if others can do it then why can’t we Nepalis?”
With the record in his bag, Sunar was noticed by the World Parkour and Freerunning Federation, and landed an opportunity to train in the US, getting a wild card to compete in the USA Parkour Cup, where he finished in the Top 8.
“It was an incredibly proud moment for me to represent Nepal in the international arena, and it was made possible by the people who supported me,” says Sunar, who is now the first and only certified Parkour trainer in the country. “Parkour and Freerunning are getting more popular, and my aim is to promote and train more Nepali athletes.”
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