There are so many athletes unrecognized by us, Manikandan Kumar is definitely one of them. He has won three golds, seven silvers and a bronze for India in para-climbing but still hasn’t yet been recognized by anyone.
He is from Bengaluru, making country proud he has won 11 medals in Para-Climbing at the International level. But sadly he is yet to receive any financial support from anyone to fulfil his climbing dreams.
He was affected by Polio at the age of 5 which made strength of his legs completely unbalanced.
For the Paralympics in the 2020, in Tokyo, Paralympics has included Para-climbing as a new sporting event. With Manikandan being the only player who is capable of playing at such a level, the state of Karnataka is sure to steal the limelight.
Government hasn’t even considered him eligible for Eklavya Award.
Manikandan developed liking for the sport at the age of 15, while attending an adventure camp organized by the Association for People with Disability in his school.
“I used to play football and cricket while in school. I was in the habit of lifting my polio-affected leg using my right hand, whenever I had to climb. But over a period of time, I un-learnt this restricting technique. I could do so, only by telling myself that if I really wanted to achieve something in life, I would not let my disability be an obstacle in my path forward. My level of disability has now reduced to 26% in a matter of just a few years,” Mani shared with the news minute.
His one and only coach, Keerthi Pais, trained him from 2002-2009. He also provided Manikan food and shelter, and also gave Manikan some money in return of some easy occasional work.
Mani’s parents in no way supported his Para-climbing career, they were so against that he didn’t even inform them when he went abroad for the first time to represent India.
“I have studied upto Class X. Immediately after passing out of school, I started training hard in this sport. The rigorous training was a huge confidence-booster, but my parents were not convinced until very recently. Even when I first went abroad to represent Indian in 2012, I told them that I was going to a friend’s house. They had no clue until the media came to interview them,” he told to The news minute.
Mani, when he is not participating anywhere, trains people at Bengaluru’s Kanteerava Stadium or at privately organized adventure camps. That is his only source of income.
Every events outside costs him almost Rs.2 Lakhs. He does crowd- funding to meet all his expenses
Mani is someone who never gives up in spite of several hurdles life throws at him, he is a fighter all of us should take inpiration from.
Mani is really in need of a regualar sponsor who can help him with some financial support to train for the 2017 World ParaAthletics Championships to be held in London.