Saturday 25 January 2014

Intro and Summary (PART 2)

Whilst in Singapore, heading out for something to eat before watching the speed climbing finals, I was in discussion with a friend about qualifying for the team next year. I was moving through to my first year of Youth A in 2013, meaning I would have to meet a higher standard of climbing in order to qualify for the World Youth Championships. Youth A male was the most hotly contested category at the 2012 tryouts, with 6 athletes meeting the standard where Australia was only able to send 4. Youth A was looking to be a strong category in 2013, and I was told by this particular person that I was going to "really struggle to qualify next year"..... It had personal intent to it... that I personally, was going to struggle whilst my competitors took my place with ease.... This person was someone I least expected to say something like this... There are always going to be people who don't want to see you succeed, and there certainly was in my case. I was hurt initially, but that's not why I'm writing about this now. I think every athlete has to face doubt head-on and overcome it if they want to be the best. It can be especially hard when it comes from someone you respect, or when the facts are staring you straight in the face that maybe you're just not as good as you thought you were. But you endure, accept and move on from these experiences, converting them into positive thoughts and drawing from them in order to push yourself even harder. This is exactly what I did with comments like this, and my experience at worlds. With new-found motivation to train, 2013 was looking to be a bright year!!
2013 Australian Youth Climbing Team Tryouts
I qualified again for the AYCT, topping out all five of my qualification routes, and climbing in a super final with two junior climbers I had looked up to for some time. It was exhilarating, and I'll always look back on it with pride. I made quick progression in my onsighting abilities, taking part in a state-wide competition called the leading ladder that had me attempting to onsight 24 routes every three weeks. I started to push my training further than I ever had before.

This year I was faced with the choice of competing in either Youth A or Open A at the Victorian State Lead Titles, as the organisers had decided they wouldn't be running youth a open categories separately as is traditional. I chose open, which turned out to the right choice! I placed equal 1st in the qualifiers, and came out as the 3rd last climber in finals. I pulled through the first section of the route on quite good holds, into some smaller edges and came up into a large slopey pocket from a flat undercling..... and all of a sudden the crowd started going crazy! I've never climbed for such a supportive crowd! I climbed, pumped, through each of the bouldery sequences before coming off a couple draws from the top. I was sure that I hadn't climbed well enough to win myself the competition, but was content with a third place against two formidable climbers. But one after the other, I saw the climbers that followed fall before my highpoint, and knew I had won my first ever open title!! I was ecstatic!!

Two months late I was to compete in my first ever continental championships in Noumea, New Caledonia. This was also set to be my first time overseas without my parents, but with the help of a fellow competitor and her grandparents, it wasn't too daunting! The competition wall was pretty fantastic, especially considering it was the only climbing wall on the island!
The competition wall prepped and ready for finals viewing time.
Photo: Ingemar Johnsson
 Here I climbed on some of the best comp routes in my climbing career thus far! Official IFSC routesetters set for the event, which was really exciting both for the event and for climbing in the Oceanic region. Throughout the competition the male Youth A, Junior and Open competitors were placed on the same routes, which meant that everyone could gauge how we were climbing in comparison to the categories above us. Most climbers topped our first qualifier, with significantly less topping out the second. I had a foot slip pulling into a no hands rest towards the top of the route, putting me into semi-finals in fourth place in Youth A.

Despite having less than 26 competitors in all categories, we all competed in a semi final. A Youth A competitor from New Zealand  and I were the only two climbers to top out on our semi final route, putting us into first and second respectively. As the evening approached, we moved into isolation and waited for viewing time. Being the second last climber out, I timed my warm up so that my mid warm up rest would land in viewing time. We were introduced one by one, and our time began. Our route looked considerably harder than what we had previously faced. It consisted of a tricky sequence down low that I could not figure out, into some moderate moves over volumes, into a sustained pumpy boulder problem, and then finally a vertical, straight forward top out.
My turn to climb came and I pulled on to the wall. I felt good. I climbed through the tricky sequence in a way I'm pretty sure it was not set to be climbed, but kept moving. The holds started to feel poor as I got more and more pumped, and I came off on a move just before the lip. I was a bit frustrated, as I went for the hold I came off of as a crimp, but it was a juggy pocket that I probably could have held onto. I untied and asked what the high point was... and it was me, which I found surprising. One more climber to go until I knew whether I was to be placed 1st or 2nd. And surely enough, the next climber came out, climbed up past the next high point below mine, and fell... It took me by total, utter surprise... but I was excited all the same! The bouldery moves were my style, and I'd just won myself the Oceania title! I waited and watch the Open males climb the same route, and the Open champion fall one move from my highpoint!!
 So despite being a little disappointed with a couple of my climbs, I went home as the Youth A Oceania Champion! Perfect prep for Lead Nationals in just a few months. I worked hard on building my power, but went into nationals a little worried about my lack of endurance and resistance. I Came to the competition to discover that my resistance had not left me and I was climbing well. I topped my first open qualifier and looked up at Q2.... It looked really hard! It was a massive jump in difficulty, but I pulled on, the holds felt good, the moves felt good. I got pumped towards the top, but kept on pulling. I was just at the last move, and pulled as hard as I could, getting just far enough to feel how much of a jug the last hold was before it slipped from my grasp! I qualified for my first Open National final in equal second as one of two youth athletes to make the final.

Youth qualifiers were later in the day. I topped both my qualifiers, being one of only two to top out our second route, putting me through to the finals in equal first(VIDEO: ). I was to be the last climber out. Youth finals were to be the next day, but for my last climb I had my Open final. I was to come out second last. I pulled onto the route and it felt good all the way through to a pumpy pinch sequence, into a roof. I was feeling quite pumped as I hit the roof, so I shook out and continued climbing, but a crux got the better of me (VIDEO: I was scored for a solid on the 30th hold, putting me in third place! I was pretty psyched with this, as it was my first ever National Open final!

Photo: Chris Hampton


Youth Finals.... the last climb of the comp. Two years in a row I'd placed third, and it was my goal this year to win. We came out to view our route and I felt as confident as could be. The route looked really nice, just my style, and the holds weren't too bad either. I warmed up and prepped myself mentally to climb. One by one I heard cheers as each competitor climbed higher than the last, and then a thud as they fell into the wall. The strongest of the other guys came off, and I began to doubt my initial thoughts about the route... but I pushed this out of my head. It was negative self talk and I didn't need it. I walked out in front of the crowd, read the route, chalked up, and pulled on. Every move flowed, every hold felt good. As soon as my fore arms began to burn. I recovered. The last few moves were big and powerful, but I pulled through them and clipped the last draw. It may not have been the cleanest climbing of my life, but regardless, I was over the moon. I punched the air, knowing I had accomplished my biggest goal of the last three years!!! (VIDEO:

No comments:

Post a Comment