Iqra Jillani, Pakistan’s leading sports climber, is resolute in her quest to make history at the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, commencing on September 23. Over the past three months, she has diligently trained to secure a sports climbing medal. Iqra, a 25-year-old energy sector professional with a marketing degree, is one of the five climbers chosen to represent Pakistan at the Asian Games, alongside teammates Amani Jannat, Fazal Wadood, Zaheer Ahmed, and Abuzar Faiz.
“We’ve dedicated the last three months to rigorous preparation in our training camp, overseen by the Pakistan Sports Board and the Alpine Club of Pakistan,” she emphasized. Our collective aim is to enhance Pakistan’s reputation in climbing, with a focus on medal acquisition at the games,” Iqra added.
Sports climbing, introduced to the Asian Games in 2018, makes its return this year. The climbing competition is scheduled from September 28 to October 2, featuring athletes from various nations competing for six coveted gold medals.
Iqra and Amani are pioneers as the first Pakistani women to compete in the Asian Games climbing event. In the previous edition, which marked climbing’s debut, Pakistan was represented by male athletes Mushahid Hussain and Sajid Aslam.
“It’s an immense honour to represent Pakistan at the Asian Games,” she proudly expressed. While optimistic about their performance, Iqra acknowledged the formidable competition, particularly from nations like China, Indonesia, and Japan.
This emerging climber draws inspiration from Pakistan’s most accomplished mountaineer, Naila Kiani, and has a background in mountain climbing and trekking. Naila serves as a source of inspiration for all of us,” Iqra noted, emphasizing her admiration. She also mentioned her trek to the K2 base camp last year.
In response to a question, Iqra highlighted the distinction between sports climbing and mountaineering, noting that while mountaineering can enhance endurance and fitness, sports climbing involves scaling artificial walls under time constraints, unlike the diverse challenges of mountaineering. Achieving fitness and endurance is possible, but mastering wall climbing skills is crucial for participation in sports climbing, she concluded.