Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / World / Europe

Climber keeps a grip on reality to see out curbs

China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-01 09:47
Share - WeChat
Climbing enthusiast Manthos Valsamidis keeps in practice at home. [DIMITRIS TOSIDIS/XINHUA]

Editor's note: This news column showcases stories from around the world that bring a touch of positivity to the fight against the deadly coronavirus.

THESSALONIKI, Greece-What happens when an athlete addicted to climbing rocks is forced by a COVID-19 lockdown to remain indoors? The answer came easily to 21-year-old Manthos Valsamidis: The Greek medical student built a climbing wall in his living room to stay in shape.

"By having the climbing wall in my home, I am more organized and I can follow a full training routine," he said during a warm-up session.

Valsamidis took up the sport 10 years ago. He loves the feeling of being high above the ground, pressed against the rocks and immersed in nature, he said.

Climbing is his passion and he intends to keep it that way as long as he can. During Greece's spring lockdown which lasted over a month, he missed the opportunity to keep himself in shape.

This time, when Greece entered a second nationwide lockdown on Nov 7, he was well prepared with his transformed wall. The lockdown will end on Dec 7.

Thessaloniki, the port city where Valsamidis lives, has been the area hit hardest by the coronavirus in the region over recent weeks, according to official figures. For a time, it was posting the most single-day infections in the country.

As of early Monday, the country had reported 104,227 infections of COVID-19, and the total number of fatalities had reached 2,321.

Like many of his compatriots, Valsamidis is doing his best to shift beyond doom and gloom. He meticulously follows the advised personal protection measures and looks to the future with optimism.

"I see this lockdown period as an opportunity given to me to progress more with my training, but also with my studies. I have more time to study and train since I am not losing time commuting," he said.

Once the pandemic is over, he would like to visit China. "I would like to visit the Great Wall. I have also seen photos of enchanting caves in China, and have heard about a climbing trip organized by prominent climbers to beautiful and unique rock formations along a picturesque river."

"The images I saw were magnificent. It is a landscape one can hardly find anywhere else. I would like to test my climbing skills there," he said.

Most of Valsamidis' neighbors spend their time in the second lockdown trying to stay fit by walking, jogging or cycling.

Elsewhere in Thessaloniki, pensioner George Tanidis has been happy to meet his friends for a few hours each morning while sitting on a seafront bench and soaking up the sun.

Lockdown leisure time

The restrictions have prevented him from enjoying his morning coffee at the cafe with his friend, but they still meet outdoors while keeping safely two meters apart.

During the lockdown, he said he has been going back home for lunch and spends the rest of the day watching sport on television.

Tanidis said it was sad to see his beloved city paralyzed by the virus. At the start of the pandemic in Greece last spring, Thessaloniki's numbers were better.

"We should not have lost control," he said, referring to the situation in the spring, when Thessaloniki was faring better.

"We were doing very well, but unfortunately the situation has spiraled out of control since then."

The second wave of the pandemic has been more challenging for his country than the first, he said. "We hope that we will somehow overcome this," he said.


Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349