This was the first year I had even thought about going to CWIF. I didn’t expect to do well; I was treating it as a fun comp thinking I wouldn’t get higher than 20th. I still trained hard, doing extra gym sessions and focusing on all my weaknesses. I wanted to be the best I could, but I definitely didn’t think it was good enough to finish as the best junior at the comp.
My main competitors were, Gracie, Molly and Tara. They were the three that I thought I had a chance of beating, although I never thought I would. I showed up on the day, stressed out because my train had been late and my taxi driver had never heard of the Works, which shocked me if I’m honest.
I was competing in the afternoon session but had headed along early to see some people on the problems and give my team a bit of support. I had been given the chance to be on the Metolius/prAna team, which was an incredible opportunity for me as I was going to be climbing alongside some of the best boulderers in the UK, Nathan Phillips, Dave Barrens and Tom Bonnert. At first glance the problems looked OK but it wasn’t till I watched people on them that I realised they were a lot harder than they seemed.
After the morning session was finished I was quick to speak to Nathan and get some of the key beta from him. He walked round the boulders with me and Tom and made them sound way too easy. I started warming up then moved onto the first problems. I managed to top 9 first go and get one on my third go after slipping of stupidly twice. I had fallen off a problem and realised I suddenly had a pain in my upper thigh, it was sore to lift it, which made climbing a little tricky, but I wasn’t going to give up. I got through all the problems I thought I had a chance at, but didn’t want to risk further injury on any of the more impossible ones. At the end of the day I was sure I’d finished out of the top 20. I certainly didn’t expect to see my name in the list for the semis in 16th place..
I showed up Sunday morning stricken with nerves, my stomach was churning. We went into isolation and I was glad to discover that I was 5th out; it meant I could get all the climbing over with quickly so I wouldn’t have to suffer much longer. I warmed up calmly but it was when I was told I had 5 minutes before I had to go out that the nerves came back and I could hardly breathe. I’d been in finals before but never a semi-final this big, never against world class climbers. If Nathan hadn’t spoken to me and told me I’d be fine I think I would have been too nervous to climb. I was called out with Chris Webb Parsons and walked round to sit facing the massive crowd that would soon be watching me attempt to keep my dignity.
When it was time I turned round and looked at the first problem. A slab. Just what I need. The moves looked simple but there were two moves that involved lifting my injured leg higher than it could go without being agonisingly painful. I jumped on, literally jumping for the first two holds as they were designed to be tricky to reach. I caught them, moved swiftly through the next moves and suddenly realised that I was at the top. I’d flashed the first problem, easily. I was shocked and struggled to control the smile that was growing on my face. I waited impatiently for my 5 minutes and the next to finish and then jumped up to see my next problem. It looked straightforward with one awkward match on an OK undercut. I got on made the first few moves and reached the bonus and then jumped but couldn’t catch the second last hold. I repeated it several times but no luck. I didn’t have the strength to control the swing and stick the move. My five minutes finished and I sat waiting again for the next 5 minutes. The third problem turned out to be quite a struggle for me. I had no skin left on my fingers and I had to catch a gritty volume. I fell off the second move several times until I decided that my skin had taken too much of a beating to be put through any more pain. I sat down for the final 5 minutes disappointed with the 2 previous performances. Finally it was time. I looked at the problem and was happy. Finally a shoulder problem, something I could do. The first few moves were awkward as you practically had to campus, of which I am not a fan. I fell off the first time because of a slip, but managed to get the bonus and the third last hold on the problem, if my heel hadn’t slipped I would have held it, but doubt I would have held the last hold, it looked grim. I didn’t have the energy to get to the same point again and admitted defeat with ten seconds left on the clock.
I was finished. All the problems were done and I was completely out of energy. I went to sit with my friends thinking I had done pretty badly but then they told me I’d beaten most of the girls on the problems who'd climbed so far. I was pretty happy. Never before had I beaten Molly or Tara and I finally had confidence in my ability to climb well. I stayed to watch all of the climbers try the problems to see where I would finish and after being slightly relieved that I wouldn’t have to hurt my leg any more by competing in the finals, I was glad to discover that not only was I 8th but I was the best junior climber out of the whole competition. It was one of the best weekends of my climbing career and I am more than psyched to make it to the finals next year.