BENGALURU : Cricket rules the roost in India, and sports such as football and hockey come second in the country. One can only imagine the scenario for climbing; few know about the discipline, which has found its way into the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But Bengaluru’s Bharath Pereira is proud he chose the sport when he was as young as five years old.
“I’m happy I took up a niche sport because when I win something, it’s humbling that people do not know much about it. As a kid, success in cricket or football would have made me arrogant,” Pereira said.
While many of his age would be happy to play various sports for fun, climbing meant serious business for Pereira from an early age. In his maiden try at the climbing wall in Kanteerava Stadium, people present there were surprised with the natural talent he possessed and the child in him was overjoyed at the adulation he got, leading him to fall in love with the sport. A lot of hard work went into becoming one of the best in the country and his coach Keerthi Pais played a big role in shaping his skills.
“I would get a lot of attention when I climbed the wall at Kanteerava Stadium. Back then, there weren’t many young climbers like me. I then began to compete with people older than me, against climbers who were 10 years old. It felt good to climb well and get respect for the same,” said the now 18-year-old.
The climber won several gold medals during his junior national days and two gold and one silver at his senior nationals debut in 2017. Despite the jump (from junior to senior) in standards, Pereira showed that he belonged to the top league and considers his debut success to be one of his best memories in the sport so far.
Pereira has already represented India at the Asian Games last year and the Youth Olympics as well. These are great achievements for the youngster, but he understands the need to attain greater heights to bring laurels for the country. As of now, his focus is primarily on the senior nationals scheduled later this month. But, he has set his sights on some international competitions that will act as Olympic qualifiers as well.
“Every athlete wants to be at the Olympics and I also want to represent India. However, the chances of me being there are slim, but I will still try my best to feature in Olympic qualifying events this year,” said Pereira.