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Hyderabad’s eight-year-old Telukunta Virat Chandra was conferred with Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar award by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a virtual function on Monday.

The native of Trimulgherry, Virat was the only one from the State among 29 others to be conferred with the award. He was recognised in the sports category for becoming the youngest, at seven years, to scale Mount Kilimanjaro. The third Standard student of Gitanjali Devshala, Secunderabad, scaled the highest mountain in South Africa in March, last year. Virat’s coach Bharath said that the Hyderabad boy took a month long rigorous training.

Speaking about the achievement, his father Sharath Chandra said they were elated at the recognition. Speaking about Virat’s thrust with mountaineering, he said, “His cousins went trekking in Uttarakhand and called him on video call. He saw the mountains and wanted to do the same. They introduced Virat to coach Bharath. After a month-long evaluation of his body resistance, his coach started training him.”

“He used to trek to Moula Ali fort every alternate day. He used to run six to seven kilometres every day. Once his body was ready, he went to South Africa to scale the mountain,” he explained.

Virat next set his sights on scaling the highest mountain in Australia – Mount Kosciuszko. “His coach suggested that he scale Mount Kosciuszko next. But the Australia borders are closed due to Covid-19 pandemic. Once they are open he will scale it.”

Speaking about Virat’s ambitions, his father said, “He said his target is to scale all tall mountains in seven continents before he turns 10. But he is multi-talented. He is a good dancer, skater and also plays guitar. He enjoys cooking with his mother.”

However, Virat doesn’t realise the gravity of his achievement. “When everyone started appreciating him after the award, he didn’t understand it. He says, ‘When I scaled Moula Ali fort every day, nothing like this happened’. I had to explain it,” he revealed.
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