British Championships 2015
After not a brilliant result in Arco, I had no idea what to expect at the British Lead climbing Championships. Last year I finished 3rd and 8th so I would have liked to finish slightly higher. The competition was held at Awesome Walls Sheffield which was one of my favourite arenas to perform.
The first day was the junior competition. I felt like an underdog going into this one but I’m British I love an underdog. Our first qualifier was a vertical crimp festival. I watched multiple climbers fall suddenly from the finger-tip holds. Getting ready to set off I knew one misplaced foot or a sudden movement could spell utter disaster. I was cautious, slow and precise. I felt my arms starting to throb spelling the end of my attempt but I was on the second to last hold. The finish in my sight. I set my cross-hairs at the target and committed myself fully. I fell short but it was still a good performance although maybe not good enough for a 3rd place.
Next route I was lucky. I was first up. A chance to show everyone else I was there to mean business. Pace was everything, no time to stop to think I threw myself into harder and harder moves. I started to breath heavily. I fell right at the top having given my all.
I was through to the finals in 3rd position. We waited in isolation, every minute ramping up the tension I felt. Coiled like a spring I sat in the chair waiting for the fateful call which meant it was my turn. I hit the wall running, doing each move as fast and efficiently as possible only stopping to refocus. I got to a big sloper at the lip and could only really hold it with one hand. I pulled down hard at the same moment feeling my feet swing into space. All or nothing. I felt my hands latch down, preventing my weight pulling me off and breath out a sigh of relief. The crowd cheered for me sticking the move. Now I had to earn a position. I knew the next move might be the difference between 4th and 3rd then between 3rd and 2nd or even between 2nd and 1st. I hung on desperately with my fingers slowly slipping and once again took aim to top the route, I gave absolutely everything but I didn’t have the recoil to create the momentum to stick it. I watched in awe as Jim went on to top the route pushing me into second position.
The next day was the seniors. I recognised many of the people I saw from UKclimbing.com articles for sending their recent desperate 8c+/9a projects. I was first up again on my first qualifier. This time I wasn’t too keen because it looked like a really technical slab. The bottom turned out to be easy but as I climbed high the holds got worse and worse. I got to a volume and I needed a high step, like really high. I decided I’d display my legendary flexibility which I’d been training for ages, it took me about 6 attempts to get my foot up. I wobbled on this volume. Tried to find balance. I think I need to spend more time slacklining as I twisted and fell off.
Only six went through to final, a small number, six of Britain’s best. Would I be one of them? The next route would decide. I climbed fast but found it hard, my body stretched out, tortured. I felt like a spider with someone pulling its legs. I made it to the change of direction. I rested, thinking of nothing but the climbing, everything was about the climbing. About 10 moves left. With each move my arms weakened but I was on the last hold! I clipped the chains! I was in final.
I’d spent many hours in school looking out the window thinking about this moment. Now it had arrived. I waited like I had done yesterday, the people outside waiting too, expecting. The lower wall went easily and soon I was into the hard climbing in the roof. I spun around looking at the crowd’s excited faces. The next moves were big but I climbed passed a clipping position. All of a sudden I was stuck, I couldn’t reverse and backtrack my mistake and yet I couldn’t go further. It was over I fell. Disappointed I lowered to the ground. I ended in 4th.