|Team training session at Oakwood, with Coach Robin O’Leary
(photo by Gary Phillips)
The competition season began back in July with the first International competition being in Imst, Austria. This is always a great place to go, and was my third time competing there. Even though this is an International competition it is not an official IFSC one, as the Austrians run it with different rules: that each competitor climbs 3 routes on each of the 2 days of the competition, so climbing 6 routes in total, and the winner is the one with the most points.
I narrowly missed out on 3rd place by 1 point.
I was disappointed by this but not too much. The reason being that the team had been given some personalised MP3 recordings to listen to, designed to help with the stresses of competing. Though I had only had it a short time it definitely helped me cope with the disappointment.
During our time in Austria we visited the amazing new climbing wall which will be the venue for the World Championships in 2018.
The first official IFSC event took place less than 2 weeks later in Briancon, France. Since there were not enough competitors in the B1 category they were moved into the B2 category, in which I compete. This made it the largest B2/Visual Impairment category to date, with 10 competitors. In an official comp you have 2 qualifiers on day one, then a final on day 2. Route one went quite well with me nearly topping out but it was on route 2 that things did not go to plan. It started ok but I came to a bunched up move and I fell off. I was disappointed, as a result my final ranking for this competition was seventh. After the competition the team enjoyed a great training day outdoors.
There was then a break from International competition climbing with the next. competition not being until the end of September, but there was no let up in the training with the National season due to start at the beginning of September.
While all this is going on I am always looking out for new sponsors/supporters to help me, and this year I am pleased to say that I now have 5 sponsors.
plug coming, they are:
Boot bananas– helping me keep my friends after a long training session as my shoes are all nice and fruity smelling,
Bison grips– which do great hand made training aids out of wood,
Monkey fist– cream to look after my hands after a training session
and the final 2 are;
Andrea Boldrini climbing shoes– having used several different shoe manufacturers over the years, I moved over to AB as my current choice as the no-edge shoes and grip on the Apache5+ gives me the confidence to commit with knowing that the shoes will stick and with no-edge soles I can feel exactly where my foot is.
the last sponsor is;
Talking headsets– not something that you would normally associate with climbing, but as a visually impaired climber this is possibly the most important piece of equipment as I need to be able to hear instructions from my sight guide. I used a Communication device in the past but the problem with it was
that it was only one way communication so my sight guide could not hear me.
This is solved by the Swatcom multicom which is two way, real time communication, and does not suffer from interference like my old one.
I’m still looking for more sponsors/supporters if anyone is interested, eg clothing, new harness, and a supply of chalk balls.
In August, between the two International competitions, I did or attempted to do my first outdoor bouldering session with my good friends Phil & Phil.
(As a visually impaired climber, bouldering outside was something that I had always avoided.)
They took me out to North Wales where I would try my first problem, a good one which was never more than a few feet off the ground, at Paraselas cave, called ‘Left hand wall, pillar start, graded V5’. By the end of the day I had done all of the moves but had run out of energy to put it all together, but I will definitely be going back there to finish it off.
At the time of writing this, the International competition has taken place in Scotland with me narrowly missing out on 3rd by a + point this time. The next International competition will take place at Awesome walls Sheffield, in a few days time.
I am extremely pleased, but surprised, that at the Birmingham Sports Awards I won
Amateur Sportsman of the Year