This year the British Bouldering Championships was held on 21/22nd June at The Climbing Works in Sheffield. During the event, over 100 of Britain’s best boulderers fought it out for the chance to become British Champion.
As a competition climber this is the biggest domestic event of the year and one which I always want to do well in. I had made finals for the previous 6 years; coming 3rd twice, this year I wanted to do better.
After analysing my performances from the competitions last year I identified a number of areas I wanted to focus my training on to achieve this goal and in February I built a training wall in my garage. Going into the event the board had paid dividends and I felt stronger than ever.
I had a great qualification round topping all 5 of my boulders qualifying in joint 1st place for the next round. Day 2 and the semi finals came around quickly, having qualified in 1st I was due to climb last I spent my time in isolation resting and trying to relax. After an hour or so of napping I got up to start my warm up and felt a pain in my back, surely this couldn’t be happening? After a few minutes of stretching I knew that my worst fears had come true and my lower back had gone out of alignment and I couldn’t touch my toes.
I quickly sourced some pain relief and set about warming up, this did not go well and I felt terrible. Time passed and I thought about pulling out, I wanted to do well and with the level of competition knew that I would need to be on my A game. I then though back to the months leading up and decided that I owed it to myself to at least try, if it wasn’t manageable then I could still retire during the event.
- Boulder one was a tricky slab and I simply could not figure out the required movement and body position to execute it until it was too late.
- Boulder two was a shouldery first section leading into a friction dependent volume finish, I read it right and flashed it.
- Boulder three was pure sloper compression up a steep wall and whilst I read it right after a few attempts I did not have enough in the tank and swang off the finishing jug. I knew from crowd reactions that two climbs were required to qualify for the final and thought that with this mistake I had blown it.
- Boulder four, an awkward starting position leading to a dyno and steady finish. I knew I had to do it quickly to stand any chance of qualifying but slipped off holding the dyno first try, I regrouped and fired it off next try.
I turned around to Victoria in the crowd and got the nod that I had made it through to finals qualifying in 4th place, elation was an understatement. During the break before finals I managed to get some treatment for my back and reset it ready for finals, game on.
I’m not sure if it was the heat, fatigue or style of problems but the finals were much more subdued than in previous years. Dave Barrans however made a mockery of all the climbs dominating things from the start topping all four climbs, Matt Cousins and I then topped two climbs each locking out the podium.
After my problems in the semi final I was relieved that I made it through to the end in one piece and equaling my best result to date.