I am pleased to announce that I won the female physical disability class at the 2012 World Para Climbing Championships in Paris on the 14th September.
The world championships were a amazing experience. The integration of ParaClimbing into the main event created a great atmosphere and it was good to be able to watch and support all the other climbers.
The competition for me began with the medical classification day on the tuesday. All Paraclimbers underwent medical testing and we were each allocated a factor depending on out level of disability. This factor helps level the playing field so climbers with different impairments can compete fairly against each other. The actual climbing began on the Wednesday with the first qualification route (once they’d built a ramp up to the stage with the wall on!). This route was quite straightforward and I topped but it didn’t really split the climbers up. The following day was the second qualification route, which was significantly harder. Although I climbed well I was disappointed not to top, my injured wrist letting me down on a nasty vertical pinch. I had however climbed well enough to qualify in first place for the finals.
My final was on the Friday afternoon with isolation opening at midday. I was happy with the way in which I controlled my nerves during this time and clearly my mental preparation had helped as I know I can get really nervous before a comp. I was pretty shaky before we got to isolation but was absolutely fine when I was there, psyched but not nervous. My warm up went well and inspection was fine even though my visual impairment means I can only really inspect the first third of the route. I think I read the section of the route I could see well and got a good overall feel for the setting. I was last in the running order for my final. The first two climbers went pretty quickly and soon it was my turn. The route went well with no major problems. I didn’t top, my wrist again proved to be a bit of a hinderance and I greased off a move on the flat above the lip of the roof. I was however pleased to get passed the crux of the volume under the roof and not to get too tangled in the two top rope system. I enjoyed the climb and more importantly felt I read the route well, clearly all my onsight training really paid off.
I was aware that my climb had gone well and was super psyched when one of the officials told me I had won. My aim for these world championships, being my first international competition, was to be competitive but ultimately to go and learn, scope out the other climbers and get some experience so winning was an unexpected surprise. My summer training was good but interrupted somewhat by my wrist injury and surgery so to win off the back of a less than ideal run up was brilliant. The medal ceremony was interesting, someone clearly forgot that a wheelchair user might need to access the podium, but despite that it was an incredible experience, plus I managed not to cry at the national anthem.
Well It’s good to be back and to be able to spend time climbing for reasons other than training. I’m planning to spend some time resting, and then tick some outdoor projects before it gets too cold as my spinal injury means I can’t really tolerate low temperatures. Then it will be back to indoor training for the British series next year and other international competitions next year. The next world championships are in Spain in 2014. I’m applying to uni so hopefully that will work out in the next year too. I’m also going to try to promote paraclimbing more in the UK as well as working on getting more outdoor climbing time in to promote the non competitive side. As a result I am honoured to have been asked by Shauna Coxsey to talk at the women’s climbing symposium at the Climbing hanger Liverpool on the 3rd November.
Many thanks again to my sponsors The Arch Climbing Wall and Big Stone Ltd for their ongoing support.