How much do you know about the ace paraclimber of India – Kumar Manikandan? He just won our country another silver at the Sports Climbing World Cup, in France. There is no mountain too high for this daredevil to climb.
Kumar Manikandan’s story is a legendary one. Born into a poverty-struck family, Manikandan’s mother used to roll incense sticks to support the family and his father is a carpenter.
Unfortunately, poverty was not to be the only obstacle this daredevil would have to face. The future paraclimber fell victim to polio as a young boy in school.
Although his parents knew that he liked rock climbing, they were not supportive of it and would ask him to get a real job. They were barely aware of where he was and what he was doing during the 10 years when he left for training. This time was to pay off.
Today, Manikandan is a respected paraclimber. He was extremely tenacious in his approach and the Bangalore climbing community soon grew fond of him, having due appreciation for his uphill battle towards paraclimbing. His source of income was coaching budding climbers and it is suffice to say that his struggle was layered.
However, no one would have guessed the way he was to phase through this tunnel of struggle. Funding his expenses was a large cause of worry for the first paraclimbing event that he was to partake in – the World Rock Climbing Championship, 2012, in France.
However, with the Karnataka State Police Housing Corporation (KSPHC) paying for his flight, General Thimmaiah National Adventure Academy contributing INR 50, 000 and voluntary donations from family and friends filling up the margin of the other INR 50, 000, Manikandan set his best foot forward.
He was the first Indian ever to win gold in the field of paraclimbing and he surely set the bar high (all puns intended).
His achievements did not stop there though. He repeatedly won medals, and the most recent win at France, at the Sports Climbing World Cup, is another shining silver.
Amongst all the sports that receive bare minimum attention in this country, paraclimbing receives next to none. This adventure-seeker is a true testament to what success really looks like. It is about overcoming the odds, all odds, and pursuing one’s passion vehemently. Manikandan is a sportsman embodying sportsmanship and it is time we notice it.
Here is to many such achievements.