Manikandan Kumar: The Indian Para Climber You Should be Proud Of
We all complain,
The bridge is too long to walk on, or
The buses are too crowded to travel, or
The elevator is not working and now will have to take the stairs home, or
The car is moving too slow , et cetera.
We all complain about many things because it is very normal for us to do so. Our body is healthy for all the needed tasks to be done easily. But ever thought if some one who is physically challenged, how would they go through their daily tasks. Infact they should complain more about the above as they have a reason to do so. But do we see any such people complaining? Probably No!
We as complete human beings take our day to day things for granted, forgetting that there is a population for whom even these tasks are a fight every single day. But as Jonas Salk says,
“ There is hope in dreams, imagination, and in the courage of those who wish to make those dreams a reality.”
is a testimony and a living example of the hope Jonas Salk talks about.
Is a sports athlete.
He has won 11 medals for the country.
He is a Para Climber.
Yes, Manikandan has Polio.
And he is the only Para-Climbing champion of India.
As much shocking as it sounds, Polio is not Manikandan’s disability, it’s his armour which he wears proudly. Manikandan Kumar comes from a family of humble background in Bengaluru. He contracted polio at the age of five. Yet, nothing stopped him to achieve his dream.
Manikandan Kumar had a host of struggles to overcome for choosing his dream. From getting sponsorships for travelling to competitions, to convincing his family, and getting recognition which is well deserved, Manikandan has gone through a lot. With a caliper secured around his right leg, he took his first chance towards climbing and got fascinated instantly.
And so the journey began...
As George Elliot says,
“It is never too late to be who you might have been”,
Manikandan proved it true that it's never late. We got a chance to interview this amazing human being.
Here’s a sneak peek into the life of an athlete who is no less than a super hero.
1. When did you first get introduced to Climbing?
I was introduced to climbing in 2002 when I was in school and the camp took place in Ramnagar, Karnataka.
2. Why did you choose climbing over other popular sports in India?
Well I fell in love with climbing and then one of the instructors in the camp suggested me to visit the Sport climbing wall in State Youth centre in Bangalore.
Slowly climbing became part of my life and it converted into passion which led me to become the first Indian world champion ever in sport climbing and now I have won 11 medals which are the most by any Indian climber in any category, in the history of sport climbing in India.
Manikandan Kumar on the Climbing wall in a competition
3. Tell us about your journey of how you started climbing?
The adventure camp in 2002 was a turning point in my life and after few months of training I started competing in state level, zonal level competitions which eventually led me to win the best climber award in the National sport climbing championship which in Bangalore in 2003.
During training course we did a small documentary about climbing and I remember saying that one day I want to become a World champion. My dream of becoming a World Champion came true in 2012 IFSC Para climbing world championship, where I represented India and won the first ever world championship gold medal for our country.
Manikandan Kumar with his first ever win in France, 2012
4. What are the challenges that you faced after you took up the sport?
Challenges were many when I took up climbing as career. It was not easy to convince my parents about the sport and financial problem was at every corner in my life. Though that did not stop me from chasing my dream, but it was my hard work and self belief that made me strong and finally the year 2012 arrived which changed my life forever. The year when I won the world championship title.
5. How does a normal day look like for you?
My day starts with 2 hours training in the morning and then I come back home about 11, rest for a while and go back to training in the evening around 4 and it goes on till 8 in the evening.
6. What gave you the courage to take up climbing despite being affected by polio?
Well climbing connected with me very well but trust me it was one of the toughest decision ever in my life. I stuck with it no matter what and today my life is all about climbing and the friends around the world.
People always appreciated my talent and they never discouraged me from playing any sports.
7. Who is your inspiration in the sport of climbing? Why?
My biggest inspiration in sport climbing is Ramon Julian and he is from Spain, apart from him is Roger Federer who is the greatest inspiration for me.
8. How has your family supported you in this?
They did their best like any other parents to bring up their children’s and everything was solved when I won the world championship in 2012.
9. How do you support your family with the sport?
Well I train some of the best students in the country, apart from this I work as an outdoor instructor to earn my bread and butter.
10. What are the other competitions in future which you will participate in?
For the 2017 competition season, I would be competing in 6 IFSC Para climbing world cups in Europe and Asian countries.
11. How are your preparations going on for the same?
I just finished this year competition circuit, winning 3 medals out of 4 competitions and looking forward to train in Japan,Canada and Europe for the next season.
Image Courtesy: Sharad Chandra
12. Do you plan on spreading awareness about overcoming fears about polio?
I would be really happy to do so and it would be an honour for me to pass on the never give up attitude to the differently abled people.
13. What do you think about the sport of Climbing in India, and where is it heading to?
Sport climbing in India is picking up but we really have to bring in the world class climbing walls in India and compete more in the international circuit to improve overall, but sport climbing is an official Olympic sport in 2020 Tokyo Olympics and I look forward to represent the country and win a medal as well along with other Indian climbers.
IFSC Para climbing world cup, 2016-Austria
14. Any of your funny or inspirational incidences that you would like to share with your audience?
I have been fortunate to meet the best climbers around the world in sport climbing and it’s an honour for me to be appreciated by them for what I have done for my country so far and I will continue to do so to bring greater recognition, which I feel very inspiring to me and as well as for my country.
15. Your message to our readers...
I would say this that each one of us is very unique. Without ups and downs life isn’t fun. Acceptance is the way of life.
Remember one thing that nobody lives on forever but the memories which we leave behind is what becomes history and be inspired to do what you like to do in your life, rest is like I said becomes History.
Manikandan is a sheer inspiration for everyone. He has proven that no matter what, if we are determined to make our dreams into reality, they do become one for sure. Here's a list of his achievements.
If you want give a shout to Manikandan for his achievements, please do so in the comments section. Spread the word about Manikandan and help him win more medals for the country.