Thursday, 3 January 2013

Looking Back and Looking Forward

As 2012 draws to (a very wet!) close I thought I would take a look back over the year, a forward into next year.
2012 was my first year in the GB team, and my first year of international competition, and was certainly an eye opener. It didn’t start too well with a poor performance at the team assessment day in March meaning I wasn’t selected for some of the first EYCs but I was psyched for the first one at Ratho and eager to show what I was capable of!

I finished 11th, missing out on the final by one place and just a plus point. Frustrating and pleasing at the same time, and because of my poor performance at the assessment day I would have to wait until Imst in August to try and improve. This was of course a setback, but that, along with my abysmal climbing at the assessment day I believe pushed me on in my training in general, and helped me to climb how I did in future competitions.

I spent the next two months alternating between the Barn and High Sports working on my endurance. Lap after lap on the 16 metre wall at High Sports, and lap after lap on the 45 degree board at the Barn! I do like being pumped……..

At the beginning of the summer holidays I went to Ceuse for 10 days, about the best crag in the world and an ideal training venue. The horrendous walk in and the long routes were perfect for building up my endurance. I had a great time there, and it was nice to be at a crag with so many great climbers. Inspiring stuff and I managed my hardest onsight of 7c+ there as well. We came straight back to Ratho for the Youth Open. The training and Ceuse had paid off, I won. My first win at National level and it felt good! It also meant I was selected for the European championships in France in November and I travelled to Imst the following weekend feeling confident.

Imst was my second EYC and I was keen to improve on my 11th place at Ratho. The first qualifier went well finishing in joint 4th so I just needed a good climb on the second qualifier to be in the final. It didn’t go well and I was 7th when I fell with lots of good climbers still to go. A stressful wait began which I did not enjoy and I ended up 16th on the route, but in the end just enough to make the final. I was great to have made the final but the stress and worry meant I hadn’t warmed down properly and drunk anything so, despite and good meal and an early bed, I didn’t feel quite as good as I could have the next day. This showed in the final, getting pumped early and then missing a hold meant I didn’t improve on my qualifying position and remained tenth. A big lesson for the future, but an improvement on Ratho, but could still do better……………

Next comp was the BLCC’s at Ratho., I went there planning to win, but I’m still making small errors that are costly. I finished a disappointing 5th, but it was enough for selection for the final EYC at Kranj at the end of November.

The next big competition was the first ever European Championships held in Gemozac in France. My dad and I will always remember this weekend as it was very emotional for both of us. As we were travelling out we heard that my Grandpa had died suddenly in Spain which was a shock, but in a strange way relieved the pressure on me and despite the circumstances I felt relaxed when I came out to climb. They were running the routes simultaneously  so I climbed my hardest route first and was moving well until my foot popped, but I had finished tenth on the route so knew that a top on the second route would be enough. The route went well and I felt solid the whole way, clipping the chains to lots of noise from the GB support and was in the final in 8th place. This time I warmed down properly, drank plenty of fluids and had a big bowl of pasta before an early night and woke up feeling fresh and ready!

The final looked like it suited me and the 6 minutes observation was spent reading and refining the sequence. The route started well and I moved through the opening sequences easily. Then it went wrong. I didn’t clip from where I should have and moved to a point where it was difficult to clip from. Despite numerous attempts, I just couldn’t get the clip in and eventually resorted to lifting the clip with my foot, which I knew wasn’t allowed, and was called off the route. I was bitterly disappointed as, yet again, a mistake had cost me. I felt sure I could have gone on but in the end I finished 7th.

The last EYC of the year was at Kranj in Slovenia and I really wanted to finish on a high. My Dad surprised me by turning up at the hotel on Friday, and as it was his birthday on the Saturday I was keen for a good result. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Yet again small errors cost me and I finished in my worst position of the year in 21st

The aim for next year is less mistakes…………………

Other highlights of the Year included climbing The Cider Soak, 8a and then Pet Cemetery, 8a+ both before my 15 birthday, and Raindogs 8a at Malham and winning the seniors at the Irish Lead Climbing Championships.

Next year has, in effect already begun, with the December Youth Open, at Awesome walls Liverpool, and the first round of the BBC’s held the next day and the Climbing Hanger. These events form part of the GB team selection for next year and everyone move up to next years categories. I was moving up to Youth A, where I would join Buster Martin, Luke Dawson, and Conner Byrne and was keen and make my mark in another very strong category. The qualifiers went well, and I topped the first route, and finished 2nd on route two, falling from a horrible slopey volume. This meant I went into the final in 2nd behind Buster.

The final was steep and long, but I climbed badly in the lower half, my feet weren’t working for me and I cut loose twice before the crux traverse. I was pumped. A good heel I could sit on a bit gave me a lot back, and the traverse was really enjoyable. Then the crux. As in Kranj, I ignored the beta I had scoped from the ground, opting for what felt right. Wrong again. The heel did not allow me enough reach, and my pumped arms gave up as I tried to turn my foot for my original beta. Off backwards! Buster went on to top the route, one of the best efforts I’ve seen, and the first power screams of his I’ve heard! I ended up 2nd, and I’m reasonably happy with that for my first competition in Youth A, here’s to a good next year!

The next day was the first round of the 2013 BBC’s. The format had been changed and it is now over a number of rounds, a nice addition, although they could have not had 2 of the rounds in Scotland, worse than lead! I went to the wall happy with the weekend, and I was extremely relaxed during the qualifiers. I was very surprised by how I did in the qualifiers, and when I was doing problems the strong guys were falling on I was stunned! I ended up qualifying in 2nd, how I have no idea!!

The finals looked good but hard. The first was an amazing slab, which I knew no one before me had even done the first move, something that frustrated me about the final. It was not full isolation and we could speak to each other when we returned, on this occasion it helped me as it took all pressure off, but a format as in world cups would work better, or as with the BBCs last year. I spent around 7 goes sorting out the first move, but then with 40 seconds on the clock did the move with a weird press. I had no chalk so had to move quickly, a thin film of sweat building as I rested. I got to the bonus, slipping off but managed to hold it and move to the undercut before the finishing hold. The foot was hard to see and as I moved across to put it on the hold I missed, slid down and was off! Frustrating but as only one other had reached the bonus it put me in a strong position.

Then the problems got really hard. One person, Hamish Pokotar, a Briston TCA wad, topped it, but the rest of us were stopped just above the bonus. Again on the 3rd problem, it was very hard and none of us could top. I ended up being 2nd, after getting all the bonuses and behind Hamish by that one top. Not bad considering bouldering isn’t my main discipline!

I ended up selected for the GB Lead and bouldering teams for 2013, a great result for my first competitions in Youth A!  Next year is going to be a good year……..

Happy Climbing,


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