Bharath Pereira – On the Steep Road to Success
Bharath Pereira says, “I started climbing when I was 4 years old and was passing by Kanteerava Stadium where the sight of people climbing the artificial rock-climbing wall caught my attention. My dad asked if I’d want to try it out and there has been no stepping down ever since!
The Asian Youth Championship in 2008 was my first ever competition. I started training months ahead of it with my coach, Mr. Keerthi Pais. Repeatedly climbing walls at 4 AM before school everyday was a pretty strenuous workout for an 8 year old but I wasn’t the only one toiling.
My mom would wake up at 3 AM and prepare my meals and my dad often had late nights at the office but he’d never miss a single day of driving me to training. He’d sleep in the car while I practiced and then he’d rush straight to work after driving me to school. While a lot of parents wouldn’t take their 8-year-old seriously, my parents were putting together every rupee so that I could go to Indonesia for my championship.
However, I was too young to understand the gravity of the situation back then and during the qualification round, I was focused more on playing around and showing off, resulting in a bad performance. My coach then sat me down and said, “Bharath, there is a lot at stake. Do you think it is easy for a middle-class boy to make it to the international level without any financial support? Your parents are supporting you to reach great heights and it’s time to pull up your socks and get serious.”
That dictum from him was an eye-opener. Ever since that day, I vowed to myself that I’d make all those early mornings worth it and that determination is what led me to win 3 silver medals at that competition. My love for the sport only kept expanding thereon.
In 2017, I became the first and only Indian to qualify for the Youth Olympics! Making the cut was quite a big deal for me. All my life I’ve chased heights but the sense of high I felt that day was beyond it all because I realised what a big moment it was, not just for me, but for the whole Indian climbing community.”