Oct 15, 2013
Indian para climber takes silver in world championships
The Outdoor Journal
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Manikandan Kumar could not repeat his gold winning performance of 2012 at the Para Climbing World Championships this year but won plaudits from the community
Think of a polio-affected person in India and the image is usually that of a disabled individual slumped in a hand-crank wheelchair. But para-climber Mani Rogers (as he calls himself) of Bangalore, southern India, refused to be among them and took to climbing 10 years after being stricken by the disease, eventually putting India in the world climbing map winning medals in whichever tournament and championships he’s participated in.
A quick interview with this go-getter on his performance in the para climbing world championship in Italy:
# You participated in an international para climbing championship earlier. How was this experience different from that?
To be honest, the experience was really nice. I was waiting for the breakthrough to happen in my climbing career and finally in 2012 I got the chance to participate in the Para Climbing World Championship in France. I was ecstatic to win the world championship gold medal for the country in 2012.
# What did you learn from other competitors in this year’s championship in Italy?
Most of the foreign climbers have elegant movements while climbing and they make it look so easy as if it’s a cakewalk for them. But here in India, we don’t climb like that and it’s a good thing to follow to hone your climbing skills.
Their stamina is very good compared to our climbers but we can pick up and climb better. Yes, holds were new and every year they come with new series of climbing holds in order to make the competition interesting.
# What was the difficulty level the route setters had prepared for the participants?
The routes were completely challenging! All the competitors were well prepared for championship. Apart from running around for the sponsorship (many individuals & companies came forward to help me compete in the championship), I just made sure that no matter what, I’ll do my best and make my country proud. But all said and done, there are no words to describe the winning moment.
Climbing routes were tough this time compared to last year. The grades were around 7b for the previous world championship but in the London competition, the grade was 7c+. I won’t be surprised if they put 8a for the next year’s World Cup as well as for World Championship in Spain.
# Where do you think you need to improve for that all important gold medal again?
Climbing is something that you need to keep practicing in order to perform well but yes intense training and focus is very important. For me, climbing is everything and its been 11 years since I started climbing.
I do play games like football and badminton an all but climbing is what I enjoy the most.
# How tough or easy was the competition? And did the cold weather make any difference to your climbing?
If any athlete really wants to make the country proud, I don’t think anything will effect him/her to perform well. Sometimes it’s difficult to adjust to different conditions but they conduct the competition in a way that climbers would not be affected by the bad weather.
Winning silver was good for me and it was a little tough, but I like the way they raise the standards for para-climbers.
# Your ultimate goal in climbing? Which international competitions in the coming days will we see Mani represent India?
Right now, I’ll be taking part in the IFSC Para Climbing Cup in France from October 12-13, 2013. I have more than 6 competitions lined up for next year, including the IFSC Para Climbing World Championship to be held in Spain 2014.
I am looking forward to take part in all events next year and hopefully 2014 will be a better year than 2013.
Image © Manikandan Kumar