Rule tweak costs boy climber Asia medal

Individual round changed to team event 'without notice' at international meet in Tehran

By Jayesh Thaker
  • Published 15.10.16
Talim Ansari practises sport climbing at JRD Tata complex in Bistupur, Jamshedpur, on Friday.
Picture by Bhola Prasad

But for an alleged last-minute change in the rules, Talim Ansari wouldn't probably have returned home empty-handed.

The 13-year-old Jamshedpur lad, who was part of a seven-member Indian squad at the Asian Youth Sport Climbing Championship in Tehran, Iran, from September 26 to 30, was allowed to make a consolatory appearance in his international debut.

The Class VIII student of DBMS Lilliput School and lone representative from East Zone could display only his individual prowess in bouldering, lead climbing and speed climbing in the C-Group (ages 13 to 15), which was changed into a team event apparently without prior knowledge of Indian officials. In short, his efforts were futile with no medal to ask for.

"It was sheer bad luck. Talim was in fine fettle and had a realistic chance of winning a medal if the rules had not been changed by the International Federation of Sport Climbing. Talim is still young and will get another chance to claim medals at offshore competitions," said Hemant Gupta, manager with Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) and a member of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (East Zone).

According to Hemant, the teenager performed well in whatever chance he got. "It was like an exposure trip. But, a medal would certainly have boosted his confidence. He has the skills," he said.

Shedding further light on what transpired in Tehran, Col (retd) Ajit Dutt, who is chairman of the sports climbing committee of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, said the Indian contingent was informed about the change in rules only after it reached the venue.

"The organisers told us that the competition in C-Group had been turned from an individual to a team event. We were not given any prior information about the change. We lodged a protest, but in vain," Dutt said over phone from Forbesganj (Bihar).

The senior official added that in the said group, Talim was the lone member in the Indian squad. "There was no way we could give him a team (minimum two, maximum three participants). The consolation was that he was allowed to perform, even if not as a contender for a medal. He did good."

Talim is the first boy climber from Jharkhand to claim a medal at a national sports climbing competition. He had represented East Zone in the sub-junior category of the 21st National Sports Climbing Competition in New Delhi from November 27 to 30, 2015, and bagged silver in lead climbing. He hones his skills under Calcutta-based route setter Bibhas Roy at JRD Tata Sports Complex.

Understandably crestfallen after his Tehran misfortune, the youngster who lost his father as an infant said he would have brought home a medal to his mother. "Medal jeet sakta tha. Bahut dukhi hoon. Par mere hath mein kuchh tha nahin (I would have won a medal. I am sad. But then, things were not in my hands)."