What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?

- Henry David Thoreau



Jul 02, 2015

India’s Mani clinches gold at Lead Paraclimbing World Cup

TOJ Athlete Manikandan Kumar aka Mani won gold at the 2015 IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup at Imst, Austria last Sunday.


Supriya Vohra

This is his second gold and seventh medal in an international competition in the last four years.

Manikandan Kumar is on a roll. Not only has he won his second gold at an international event, but the paraclimbing world champion has proven that he can get to the top (literally), against all odds.

The TOJ athlete clinched gold at the International Federation for Sport Climbing (IFSC) Paraclimbing World Cup Series held in Imst, Austria last Sunday.

31 climbers from the world participated in the annual event, which was being held in Austria for the second time. Mani belonged to the Men Neurological Physical Disability A category and competed with seven others in his category. Juan Pipo Gil Blanco from Spain stood second and Daniel Bar David from Israel held the  third position.

“I have come so close to winning many gold medals in so many occasions but I end up getting silver medals so far, but the wait is over to win the gold medal. I have won gold in the just concluded IFSC Para climbing cup held in Imst, Austria 2015,” Mani wrote in a Facebook post, just after the win.

His first gold was at the IFSC Paraclimbing World Championship in 2012 in Bercy, Paris, and his first stint at an international event. The World Championship happens once every two years. Ever since, he has had a podium finish at every international competition. 

Talking about the competition, the Bangalore-based climber said, “The routes here in Austria are based on climbing grades and we need to climb 6 routes with different grades.”

“The first day we had to climb three routes and I was the only climber to top all the routes and the next day, we had to climb the remaining three routes to decide the winner.

The routes were quite challenging on the second day but I managed to top all to win the Austria competition,” he told The Outdoor Journal in an email.

Despite consistently making waves at international competitions, he struggles for funds. He receives continuous support from General Thimayya National Academy of Adventure (GETHNAA), an autonomous body of south India’s Karnataka’s state government, responsible for promoting adventure related activities. He also receives support from brands like Adventure 18 along with his friends and students.

The IFSC is an international non-governmental, non-profit organisation, headquartered in Torino, Italy, with an objective of promoting and developing climbing competitions around the world. The Paraclimbing World Championship is part of the IFSC Climbing World Championship 2014 (Lead, Speed, Paraclimbing). The event is held every two years.

Read more about Manikandan here.

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Jul 10, 2018

The 2018 Whitewater Awards: Nouria Newman and Benny Marr take the spoils.

The Whitewater Awards is a gathering of the world’s best kayakers to show off the biggest and best things that have happened in the sport over the past year.



Brooke Hess

 To be considered for an award, athletes, photographers, and filmmakers submit media taken over the past year that they believe showcases the best progression in the sport.  

There are sixteen different categories for submission, including separate male and female categories within the “Best of” kayaking categories. Categories include Photographer of the Year, Film of the Year, Expedition of the Year, Best Trick, Best Line, River Stewardship, Grom of the Year, Rider of the Year, along with several others.  Awards are decided upon by a voting process done by the Association of Whitewater Professionals.

This year’s Whitewater Awards was held in the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise, Idaho. It was hosted on June 14th, the same weekend as the North Fork Championships, which takes place on the North Fork of the Payette River just outside of Boise.  The North Fork Championship is regarded as one of the hardest kayaking races in the world.

The race takes place on Jacob’s Ladder rapid, which is a rapid so difficult and consequential that most kayakers feel accomplished simply by surviving the rapid, much less racing the rapid. Nouria Newman, a 3-time NFC racer and winner of this year’s Whitewater Awards Female Rider of the Year describes it well,

“The NFC is the hardest race in whitewater kayaking. [Jacob’s Ladder] is a scary, consequential rapid. Running it is challenging, and it only gets harder to race it and make the gates.”

In order to minimize the risk involved in the race, event organizers have developed a strict qualification process for racers. 30 racers will qualify to race Jacob’s Ladder. Ten of them are pre-qualified from placing top ten at the event the year before. Those ten then read numerous athlete applications and vote on the next ten racers who will join them.  The last ten racers are decided through a qualification race on S-Turn rapid, another one of the North Fork’s infamous class V rapids.

Every year on this same weekend in June, kayakers, photographers, and filmmakers from around the world flock to Idaho to celebrate quality whitewater, progression of the sport, and the community that surrounds it. Both the North Fork Championship and the Whitewater Awards had great turnouts of athletes and spectators this year.

John Webster

The finalists of each category in the Whitewater Awards were presented in film format at the Egyptian Theater for the entire audience to view, with the winner being announced live. Winners were presented with an award and expected to give a short speech at the event. The big winners of the night were Nouria Newman and Benny Marr, who were awarded with Line of the Year and Rider of the Year in the female and male categories. Nouria says that voting for the “best” in each category is a challenging process, “…voting is always tricky, (look at both French and U.S. presidents, not too sure if they are really the best available option). And it is also very hard to compare lines and rapids. What’s bigger? What’s harder? I got voted Best Line of the Year with a good line down Parque Jurassic, a long technical rapid, but Rata’s line down Graceland, which is a huge slide, was equally as good, if not better.”

No matter how tricky the voting process can be, Nouria agrees that the Whitewater Awards plays a large role in the progression of the sport, “I think it’s super cool to see what people can do in their kayak, how they push the limit of the sport and how they open new possibilities.”

For more information about the Whitewater Awards, you can visit whitewaterawards.com, you can also follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.

You can follow Nouria on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You can follow Benny on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover photo courtesy of Ari Walker

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