Uttarkashi/IBNS: Jharkhand, a member of the Eastern Zone Chapter of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), emerged as the powerhouse of sport climbing in the country when the 26th National Sport Climbing Championship concluded successfully with praise for the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM). who recently organized the event on behalf of the IMF’s Northern Zone Committee under the aegis of the IMF.
The East Zone team, mostly climbers sponsored by the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) and representing Jharkhand, predictably took the team championship again, winning twelve gold medals out of a total of eighteen.
The former East Zone won the team championship when the national team was held in Bhubaneswar. Because of the pandemic, the championship could not be held the last two times.
Besides the gold medals, Jharkhand also won six silver and four bronze medals, making a total of 22 medals.
In the medal hunt, Jharkhand was followed by Maharashtra, who won a total of 15 medals including three gold, five silver and seven bronze. Former champion Karnataka settled for third place with a couple of golds, three silvers and five bronzes, while Services won one gold and one bronze.
Manipur, which used to produce good sport climbers, stayed in the running with two silvers. Among others, Jammu & Kashmir took silver and bronze, Punjab silver and hosts Uttarakhand bronze.
Sport climbers from different parts of the country took part in the competition, which was held in six categories – men and women, junior and junior in three disciplines – lead, speed and bouldering.
The championship got off to a colorful start as Uttarakhand Sports Minister Smt Rekha Arya opened the meeting in the presence of IMF President Dr all participating climbers and officials.
Aside from bouldering events, Jharkhand athletes have dominated the show in lead and speed climbing, winning top placings in ten out of twelve categories at the last two events. In bouldering, they had to settle for two gold medals, coming from sub-junior boys and girls.
During the three-day event, the spotlight was mainly on Kiron Singh Thakur and Kundan Singh, both from Jharkhand in the sub-junior girls and boys category respectively, who each won three gold medals and came out on top in all three disciplines.
Anisha Verma, also from Jharkhand, stole the limelight among the women by bagging two gold medals in lead and speed and a silver medal in bouldering. Anisha, who was selected to represent India at the Hangjhou Asian Games in China, postponed to next year due to a pandemic there, lived up to expectations of setting a new national mark of 10.071 seconds in the final of the speed event.
Another national mark was also achieved in this championship, achieved by Services’ Birajdar Dhiraj in the Quarterfinals of the Men’s Speed event. Birajdar ,
who clocked 6.388s over the last eight stages, couldn’t keep up in the semifinals and remained in contention for the bronze medal.
Maharashtra, a rising force in Indian sport climbing, won their gold medals through Hritik Sablaram Marne in men’s, Anika Bhusan Musale in junior women’s bouldering and Nimidh Somnath Dangekar in junior bouldering.
Veteran Bharat Periera and veteran Apeksha Arun were in good form best in men’s and women’s bouldering, each earning gold for Karnataka, while Services earned their only gold from Sarvan Chauhan in the men’s speed event.
Joga Purty from Jharkhand also shone with two gold medals in lead and speed for the juniors, while her compatriots Ranit Bandera and Suraj Singh showed good prospects in the juniors’ group. While Ranit took gold in lead alongside silver in speed and bouldering, Suraj Singh Thakur secured the yellow metal in speed.
Known for their sport climbing prowess, the two men, veteran Maibam Chingkheinganba from Manipur and up-and-coming Aman Verma from Jharkhand, who was also chosen to represent the country at Hangjhou Asiad, failed to impress much. While Maibam took silver each in bouldering and lead, Aman won silver each in speed and bronze each in lead and bouldering.
Sport climbing is gaining popularity in the country following its inclusion as a competitive sport in the Olympics and Asian Games. The way TSAF nurtures and promotes sport climbing is exemplary, which is well reflected in this nation. It is hoped that other organizations and sports federations will follow them to improve this sport in India.