This time yesterday I was sitting in Gatwick airport waiting for my flight home after one of the most life changing experiences of my life. The first round of the Europeans and the second European trip of the British Junior Bouldering Team. We had spent 5 days in Sofia, tanning, burning, climbing and cheering. This comp was different to Grindelwald as there were 73 competitors in total and only 17 in my category, compared to the previous 45.
I knew the comp wasn’t going to be easy, after all it was the top 17 competitors in Europe that I was up against. I wasn’t expecting a great result but I knew that it didn’t matter where I finished as long as I climbed at my best.
|Our pre-comp challenges|
The day we arrived we went to check out the wall and buy me some makeup and mouthwash since I had forgotten to pack my toiletries bag. The Wall was incredible; the shape was so different and the walls had lights in them which made it look ten times better than any other. After scoping it out we headed back to our hotel to relax. We’d flown out a day earlier this time so we wouldn’t be so tired. We weren’t really worrying about the comp at this point. The next day we went into the town and looked at the sites. Tom had given us a list of challenges to do on the trip just for fun and we started on them in our pairs.
We did a yoga pose in a busy place that got us a few strange looks; we made a human pyramid which wasn’t that easy, and then we watched as everyone’s shoulders slowly became redder (although that wasn’t one of the challenges). After lunch we headed to the park near the mall to chill out and give me and Sid a chance at tanning. We didn’t. We saw the German team while we were there and Gracie, Nathan and I went to talk to the manager which got me psyched as I realised how close and fun the comp was becoming.
|It's great having the support of the whole team|
After we got back to the hotel with all our hilarious tan lines, Tom gave us a team chat and we organised what time we would all head to the comp. Sid and James were climbing in the morning because they were Youth B; the rest of us were from 2pm onwards. Tom said it was okay for us to head later on so we could get a better sleep and be more awake for competing, but we all wanted to support Sid and James so we headed for just after 10 to see the end of Sid’s qualifiers. Me and Gracie looked at all the problems and got a feel for the style. I felt a lot more chilled as I thought I should be able to top a few of them this time. When it came time to warm up we were all in trousers and I started to realise just how bad the heat was. I had to change to shorts and I was still overheating while climbing. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to do well in this heat. I took a short break and then did another bit of warming up but I felt really shaky and weak all of a sudden and got worried that something was wrong.
The qualifiers began, Youth A girls were mixed with Junior girls since the categories were so small. I got on problem 2 first and after a few slips and hand pops I managed to make it to the last move but I couldn’t keep my foot on and got so boxed that I had to drop off. I decided to move on to another problem as I only had an hour left. I went on problem one and my hands were so sweaty that I couldn’t make the last move. I was so disheartened after that as I’d seen so many people flash it and I knew I should. I got back on it and thankfully got it. I was so happy to get my first European top but I was still disappointed that I hadn’t flashed it. I worked my way through the rest of the problems and made the last move on another problem. The time went by so fast and I didn’t get enough attempts to top them. There were a total of 3 I could have topped as well as the one I did. I was 14th overall and managed to beat 2 people I didn’t expect to. I was disappointed at first but then I realised that it didn’t matter that I didn’t top them, it mattered that I could have. Nathan made it to the final and it was incredible to watch him do so well the next day finishing 4th. I really felt the team spirit while we all crowded on one mat screaming till our throats were sore. We were all so proud of Nathan, and of our friend from the Irish team Dom (Burns) who came first in his category. The team became a lot closer on this trip as we gave each other nick names and shared jokes and advice. I’m so proud to be part of it and I can’t wait to climb with them all again next week at the senior BBC’s.
|Proud to fly the flag|
On the flight back Tom told me that the only thing holding me back was the fact I didn’t believe in myself. I was happiest at the moment because I realised that Tom believed in me and I did deserve to be competing. I am currently ranked 14th in Europe and I’ll be training my mind for the next comp; I have more belief and confidence in my ability now than I have since I started climbing. I’m ready to start showing what I can really do and prove that I can make top 20 in World.