There is some hope for the 600-odd Sport Climbing professionals in the country as it might be, come an Olympic discipline soon. Otherwise, this poor cousin of other sports has no major source of funding except some government grants.
The 12th National Sport Climbing Competition is presently on at the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) in the South Campus. For the uninitiated, Sport Climbing involves climbing an artificial wall and emphasises on the gymnast's ability to make difficult moves on risk-free routes on the wall. It was introduced in India in '92.
On their own: Says chairman of the IMF committee for Sport Climbing, AVM (retd) AK Bhattacharyya, "The scenario might change once it becomes an Olympic discipline. Here, each professional works voluntarily we just pay for their travel expenses. Even in terms of jobs, there are no specific prospects for these sportspersons."
Gaining ground: However, the sport is gaining support in certain pockets of India. Says Shanti Rani Devi, who has shifted to Bangalore from Manipur to pursue the game, "In Bangalore, youngsters climb the artificial wall in the heart of the city daily. Even professionals, who want to stay fit, are getting attracted towards this sport." The reigning women's national champ Vathsala MN, who also works for an outdoor adventure sports management company in Bangalore, adds, "Cycling and climbing are topmost on the minds of our corporate clients who want their employees to be physically and mentally fit."
But in Delhi, it seems the sport still has a lot of altitude to scale.
Email Anupam S Thapa: firstname.lastname@example.org