Tuesday, 1 March 2016

A Year In Review and The Journey Ahead

2015 in Review                                                                                           March 2nd, 2016

It’s that time of the year again! It’s the week before the first Lead Climbing Comp of 2016 and I have to keep reminding myself to take it easy over the next couple of days. I’ve just been in constant training mode for the past five months, and it’s so easy to forget I have to zone into comp mode again. I know that rest and recovery should be two of the most important aspects of my training program at this point in time. However, the subtle ache of muscle fatigue in my arms right now tells me I should probably be focusing a little more on this before this weekend comes around and brings with it the Tasmanian State Lead Titles.

It’s funny looking back to this time last year. It seems like so long ago because so much has happened since, yet for the same reason, the time has passed by so quickly.

"Sail Away" (26), Blue Mountains 2016.
Photo by Cuskelly Photography
Tasmanian Lead State Titles 2015. Photo by
Cameron Johns Photography

For me, 2015 was a big one. I competed in all five Open State Lead Comps across Australia and was really happy to place 1st in every single one of them. This put me in a fantastic headspace for Nationals and my upcoming international competitions.

Open A Females Finals Climb at Lead Nationals 2015. Photo by Climb Media
Lead Nationals in June was an amazing event and definitely one of the highlights of the year. I had an incredible amount of fun at this comp. I felt absolutely top of my game and everything seemed to just fall into place. It’s hard to describe the ecstasy I felt as I topped out on that Finals climb. As I came down, my heart was racing with excitement and happiness, being the only person to top the Finals route at Nationals by a fair way. However, unfortunately I was called off on a technical error which meant I could only place 2nd in the Open Women. As devastating as it seemed at the time, I grew a lot from retaining perspective and shifting my focus to the international World Cups ahead of me.

World Cup Chamonix, France 2015. Photo by Ciro Tracey
In July, just a week after the Nationals competition, I left Australia for a month in France. While here, I competed in two of my first ever Open Lead World Cups! It had been a huge goal of mine to make it to that point and I really wanted to just know that I was at the right level to compete against such strong athletes. Of course it would have been a dream to go into my first World Cup and surprise everyone by completely blitzing the climbs and making top 3… but that’s just not how things work, and putting those expectations on myself would have been na├»ve and hindering to my performance. Unfortunately I was also carrying a bit of a shoulder injury in the week leading up to the first World Cup, which shook up my confidence a fair amount. My primary focus was to get a general idea about where I was standing amongst it all and learn what I need to train the most to raise my level on the international stage.

Realising I was definitely on the right track and not way behind the rest of the athletes was a huge confidence booster for me. I felt strong enough physically, but my headspace needed significant improvement. I’ve now come to the conclusion that if I want to get better, I will need to compete in as many World Cups as possible and gain the experience necessary for me to compete confidently in that environment.

So, what’s coming next?

I remember in the month before I left for Europe last year, I was so focused on getting myself to those World Cups that I had no idea what would come next. I didn’t even know what I was going to do for the rest of the year, let alone in 2016. But upon returning home and over the past five or so months leading up till now I’ve had a huge think about my long term plan and goals over the next five years.

On hearing that Sport Climbing is almost definitely going to be in the 2020 Olympics as an invitational sport, and realising that I won’t be ancient by then (but 27 years old), my long term goal has been set. What athlete wouldn’t be excited to represent their country at the highest level of competition the world has to offer? 
Opening Ceremony at World Cup Chamonix 2015. Photo by Rob Parer

It does scare me a little how much work I need to do over the next 4 years to make this goal of mine happen… But my determination and excitement for this challenge overrules by far.

Similar to 2015, this year I plan to compete in all the interstate Lead Competitions and Nationals and then head to Europe for the Open Lead World Cups. This year however, the plan is to live, train and compete there for three months as opposed to one. This time I will also be competing in five Open Lead World Cups and will finish off the trip with the World Championships in Paris in September.

I thought 2015 was big… but this year is going to be massive! Every year that follows is going to be bigger and better than the last and I am determined to push through all the obstacles and challenges I may be faced with.

I am incredibly excited to have such an amazing group of sponsors to support me along the way. I really can’t describe how grateful I am to Flight Centre Sports & Events, CLIF Bar, Pinnacle Sports, Evolv, Revive Ashgrove, Climb ICP, Feeney Family Law and all of my amazing friends and family for their support… Because without them, none of this would be possible.

 
"A Space Odyssey" (30), Mt Flinders. Photo by Set In Stone Photography