Last weekend, while the nation watched an intense cricket match, a handful of climbing enthusiasts were scrounging the interwebs for any news on India’s rare appearance at the Bouldering World Championships.
20-year-old Sandeep Kumar Maity was responsible for the internet titillation, being one of the few Indians who managed to step out of Asia and compete in the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) event in Millau, France.
Maity, a climber from New Delhi, is a national-level champion, albeit he hardly ever receives media coverage or sponsorship to fund his participation. Hence, instead of practicing for the event, he was busy looking around for sponsors!
The Outdoor Journal caught up with the climber via Skype for a first-hand update on his time at the competition:
Q. This is your first time participating at an IFSC Bouldering World Championship. How has the experience been?
A. It was good but still not up to the mark. I would have liked a much better performance but then, there were much better climbers out there.
Q. What was the kind of preparation you underwent for the competition?
A. Not much, as I was busy looking for sponsors. It is a big problem to get sponsors in India, especially for an off-beat sport like this. Still, I did get enough sponsorship to fund my trip. Adventure 18, Delhi Sport Climbing Association and a few friends bailed me out.
Q. How were the routes in the competition?
A. There was a Start hold and a Top hold and in between there were Bonus holds. In the quarters and semis, there were 5 boulders with 5 minutes for each boulder in each route. In the finals, there were 4 boulders- with 4 minutes for each boulder as well as 4 minutes for each boulder to alter.
Q. Who were the best, according to you?
A. All of them! The winner, Kilian Fischhuber from Austria, was the most experienced guy in the competition. He has been climbing for the past 15-16 years; people know about climbing here. It’s just in India that things need to change.
Q. What was your final position in the competition?
A. I ranked 42nd among the 45 participants.
Q. What are the upcoming events you are participating in?
A. I’ll be moving to Austria to participate in the IFSC Bouldering World Cup starting April 26. I hope to put up a better performance there.
Q. Are you the first indian who has reached so far in such an international competition outside Asia?
Q. Off late, sporting activities like climbing and bouldering have caught the headlines. What do you think our sports authorities should do to promote and help sports like these?
A. Well, everything has to change. Right from infrastructure to awareness. Authorities need to introduce more people into sports like climbing. Above all, we need media coverage. That’ll get us sponsors.
The Outdoor Journal wishes Sandeep Maity luck for his future climbs and competitions!
FOOTNOTE: Last September, Kumar Manikandan from Bangalore, India won the Gold in Paraclimbing World Championships held at Paris.
Photo © Sandeep Maity.