Manikandan Kumar aka Mani Rogers, is India’s first world Para climbing Campion, a rare feat for anyone in India, where recognition for outdoor activities and sports is a rarity. However, in the case of Mani Rogers, this was taken a step further, apart from break from the norm, this young 27 year old has also broken his handicap, refusing to let handicap take over Mani Rogers, of Southern India put India in the world climbing map when he won the Gold in the World Paraclimbing Championship.
Mani’s climbing journey began in 2002 in Ramnagara, during at a rock-climbing camp. “It was something I got hooked into after. I remember going to this camp immediately after my 10th exam. I simply kept climbing, I never had a trainer specifically, but then I would go to Ramnagaram, Hampi and Badami and would keep climbing rocks, I would even try climbing artificial walls, I basically trained a lot with other climbers, I would train at Kanteerava stadium,” says Mani.
When Mani started climbing he was 16 years old and was still nursing serve polio in my right leg at the time and used a calliper for movement and support. However, this did not stop his raw grit to learn and excel this sport. Ten years down the lane in 2012, Mani Rogers went ahead to win the World Para climbing Campion. “I really wanted to be a part of the world championship, and I trained as much and as hard as I could,” said Mani.
Mani has been recognized for outstanding performance by the Association for People with Disabilities, Rotary Club, BEL, Fame India and others. Mani is also a certified route setter by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, since 2008.
However, 10 years back thinking of getting sponsorship to go to France to win a Paraclimbing competition was something rather unheard of! While Mani would sustain himself by coaching climbers at the Kanteerava Stadium, the champion’s gold in Paris was yet a distant dream, as money was hard to come by. “I had to work really hard to get the sponsorship and money, the Thimmaiah National Adventure Academy contributed money, so did the state government and well-wishers.
Talking about this first experience at Paris, Mani says, “It was a dream come true, this was something that I was struggling and working towards for years. And finally when I got the chance to participate in the Para Climbing World Championship, I was totally happy! The feeling was out of the world, winning the gold medal for the country.”
When asked about what is the difference between climbing in India and abroad, Mani says, “The training methods there are very advanced, they make climbing look so graceful and easy, and they have good stamina… In India, we still are learning a lot of things in these aspects.”
Talking about his 2013 experience in Para climbing competition, Mani says, “the routes were brilliant and challenging, this time I even had sponsorship easily, I nevertheless did my best to make my country proud, defining the winning moment is something that words cannot describe.
“For years climbing has been everything for me, it has given me everything in my life, I owe everything to climbing,” says Mani. Talking about his future goals, Mani adds, “I want to compete and win more at International level competitions, I aim to represent India in the Open Category as well. I really want to bolt, ascend and document more routes/climbing areas across India (and outside); develop climbing media in the country. I aim to climb an 8a+ within the next year. Become a sponsored athlete, representing the Para-Climbing community whilst helping to gain further support and exposure for Indian Para-athletes in adventure sport.”
Mani Roger’s Notable Ascents – Lead and Boulder
- French-Indian Masala, Badami – 7b+
- Fire Or Retire, Badami – 7a+
- Art of Stone, Ramnagar – 7b+
- Nandi image, Hampi – 7b
- Sister Stone, Hampi – 7a
- Smiley, Ramnagar – 6c
- Pineapple brothers, Hampi – 6c+
- TV Boulder, Hampi – V7
- Baba Café, Hampi – V7
- Lemon Tree, Turuhalli – V8
- Various V7/V8 boulders in Turuhalli, Antargange, Hampi, Badami and other areas