Thursday 6 March 2014

Victorian State Lead Title

Last weekend I competed at the Victorian State Lead Titles, the very first competition of the Australian Lead season. The event was hosted by Bayside Rock, and was superbly run by the staff and volunteers. I'd been looking forward to this comp for a good while, eager to put my training to its purpose. I'd worked hard prior to this competition with the goal of qualifying again for the Australian Youth Climbing Team, and it was super exciting to have an opportunity to test the long hours I'd spent in the gym and see if the improvements in my technique would pay off under the pressure of competition.

Most of all though, I was super psyched to catch up with some really good friends that were flying in from across the country to compete and earn ranking points in our state title. A number of these friends were staying at my house, and although it was feeling like a bit of a hotel, I thoroughly enjoyed having them all there to catch up, talk about climbing, and get psyched for the season to come.

Briefing for youth qualifiers.

The youth categories kicked off with an early morning start, and as a Youth A climber I was there warming up to be the first climber in my category on the wall. We viewed our route and watched the forerunning, preparing for any hidden surprises the route setters might have had in store for us. The first qualifier turned out to be pretty friendly, with most athletes clipping the final draw and topping out. The second qualifier, however, was not so welcoming, with some hard to spot holds and powerful sequences that spat all but myself and Junior climber Jarred Jordan from New South Wales off before the top. I qualified in first place for the finals and was feeling positive about my climbing thus far.

Psyching up for the final :) Photo: James Kassay
Making my way up the prow. Photo: James Kassay

After a fairly routine wait in isolation, I was tied in and ready to climb. Aside from the cries and murmurs of the crowd, I had no indication of where the climbers before me had fallen. I pushed all external distractions from my mind, and pulled onto the wall. The first four draws of the route were set to be very accommodating, and so I made sure to use this time to work myself into a state of flow and control. As I progressed further through the steep route, the holds varied in their positivity, but clear clipping and resting position set up for a powerful crux cross into an undercling and some burly moves between solid holds. I came over the final lip of the wall, and clipped the final draws, feeling pretty good about my climbing, and eager to know how the rest of the day would unravel! :)

 Many an excited climber poured in through the youth finals and into the early afternoon, ready to warm up and pull on to their open qualifiers. The men's first climbs consisted of a burly pink route up the side of a roof, and a techy yellow that twisted its way up an arête. Qualifiers went well for myself and my fellow competitors, with me and two others qualifying in first place for the open final. So far I hadn't fallen the whole day, and was intent on keeping it up through the final climb.

Jack Opaluch working through the final sequences of his Open B first qualifier.
The isolation to follow had to be on of the best in my time climbing in competitions. The atmosphere was fun and easy going. We just talked and laughed until one by one we stepped out in front of the crowd to compete for the title. Even before climbing the final route I remembered why I love competition climbing. When you put aside the routes, phenomenal locations, the victories and losses, the people you meet in the sport really make you feel at home. Whatever the result of the competition, I swore to myself I'd remember the fun I'd had throughout the whole day and in being able to see some of the nicest people I know from all across the country.

As the clock ticked by it was time to tie in, psyche up, and flush out any final nerves before we stepped out to decide the final result of the day. I was the last of the male climbers to step onto the wall, and knew from the cheers of the crowd that I had to put in a good effort to place highly. I pulled up to the first holds, and only mere seconds into the climb I had a dire foot slip that could have cost me the whole competition. The crowd gasped, but I caught the next hold and took a moment to re-establish myself. Surprisingly, I completely forgot about the slip through the entirety of the route. One of my biggest weaknesses has always been resetting my mentality after a clumsy sequence, and since the comp I've been super psyched that I'm learning to overcome this.

The final was a 57 hold haul to the finish, and as I climbed, everything fell perfectly into place. I neared the top of the route, and my heart began to accelerate. I pulled through the final moves, my body still feeling fresh and ready, and clipped the final draw, banging my fist hard against the wall. All the fear and nerves about how I would perform melted away, and I was super happy with how I'd climbed. I lowered down, and my mum rushed over to hug me, and I could only think of how psyched I was, and how the other climbers in both the male and the female categories had faired.

 Lucy Stirling stepped out of isolation following my climb and pulled out a solid effort, just missing out on a top and securing the win for herself!
The male podium consisted of myself in 1st, Aden Nadoh in 2nd and Jarred Jordan in 3rd, with the females placing Lucy Stirling in 1st, Ashlee Hendy in 2nd, and Sarah Davis in 3rd.

I'd also like to give a shout to my good friend, training partner, and fellow youth athlete Roxy Perry, who despite a bit of a rough comp in areas, climbed exceptionally well and continues to astonish me with the leaps and bounds she's made in her climbing. Roxy trains incredibly hard, and I look forward to seeing her climb throughout the year. She's one to watch!!
Thank you to everyone who supported me throughout my training, congratulations to all the competitors, and kudos to Bayside Rock for hosting such and awesome event!! My next destination is Sydney for the Australian Youth Team Tryouts with the aim of qualifying to head off to Noumea and represent Australia.

All the best in your climbing endeavours, and especially good luck to those I will be seeing at the tryouts in just over two weeks! This year's team is set to be STRONG, and I hope to be a part of that!

Cheers, Campbell :)

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