So Thursday, travelling to Laval (France) for the last round of the European Youth Bouldering Cup. We all met up at Manchester airport raring to go and excited about the weekend. After a short flight, a few delays at the car hire and a hell of a lot of Paris traffic, we finally made it to our hotel. It was quite late by this time and we all needed some sleep but for some reason I wasn’t able to get any… As I sat outside the hotel at half 3 in the morning I had time to think. I knew this was going to be my last ever competition competing as a junior and I really wanted to put in my all.
The next day I had a chance to catch up on some sleep and relax a little before the opening ceremony in the evening. It did feel quite cool to go up on stage holding our nations flag along with all the other countries. The speeches did drag on a bit but maybe if I had learned some French before I came I may have understood at least some of it. Afterwards I did my usual team talk with everyone and also got to meet one of the GB para-climbers.
Competition day, today was the day it all happened for youth A and junior categories. I watched the Youth A’s in the morning and tried to help out as I could. Everyone did so well! And it really got me pumped up for my qualification round in the afternoon.
It finally came time for me to get on the wall. I hadn’t climbed properly since the Monday before so I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to feel once I got started. I had a good warm-up and was ready to go. The problems were really cool and I really enjoyed it. I managed to top 7 of the 8 boulders qualifying me at 5th into the final.
I normally suffer from bad cramps during the finals of competitions so I got a massage straight after qualifying. This really helped and I didn’t get any cramp whilst on the wall.
We were in isolation for ages so I went to sleep. After waking myself up and having another good warm-up we all went out for observation. The crowd was massive and the atmosphere was incredible. The problems looked awesome and I couldn’t wait to get on them.
The first boulder was and off-vert, technical and slopey creation. I came out and somehow managed to flash it! After fist pumping at the top and shouting “COME ON!” I was feeling great going back into isolation. The second was a crimpy start into a dyno. It took me 3 goes to stick the dyno but it felt great when I topped it. The final boulder looked crazy with these huge pink blobs leading to the top. On my first attempt I got past the first section with relative ease but then came unstuck at the slap for the penultimate hold. I knew what I had to do and started up the problem once more. I paused just before the move I had previously dropped and said to myself in my head. “Last ever junior problem. Make it count.” I stuck the move with a wild helicopter of my feet and matched the last hold with a massive smile on my face.
As I walked out to watch the last competitor on the final boulder, at this point I knew I had second place and wasn’t expecting anything more. I was really happy with this and I had maintained my world ranking of 2nd and bumped my European ranking up to 2nd as well. The only way I could come 1st was for the last climber to not top the final boulder. I was standing with the team at this point who had been giving me the best support all through the final and were by far the loudest team there. After he had dropped the problem 3 times I actually started to think I might actually win this. He pulled on for his last attempt just before the buzzer sounded so was allowed to complete his go but was not successful. The whole team including me jumped up and roared! I felt a bit bad that we were all cheering when he fell off but I couldn’t believe it! I had actually won!
This was the greatest moment in my life so far…
To be honest, it still hasn’t sunk in and I was getting congratulations all weekend. It felt amazing!
The next day was the turn of the youth B’s and I was just blown away with how well the whole team worked together during qualifications. Normally I go around coaching during qualification and helping out as much as I can but today was different. I sat back and watched the team do this without any instruction. They just wanted everyone to climb their best!
Both Pete and William made finals and did amazing. Will even made podium! I loved watching them climb in the finals, proving that the Brits are a force to be reckoned with.
The Team has really bonded more than ever on this trip; it feels like I have become part of a 2nd family. Without them cheering me on there is no way I could have done what I did. I am really sad to be leaving the team and I’m sure the next team captain will be just as good if not better than I was. Thank you for all your support guys. (And of course the card and cake)
Now… Into the seniors…
Photos - Credit: Brieuc Deléage, Stasa Gejo, Céline Bellanger