Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Nationals & Oceania 2016 and Onwards to Europe

I’m sitting in a plane en-route to what will be the longest overseas trip I’ve been on…ever. Am I excited? Yes. Am I nervous? Yes. Do I actually have any idea what emotion I’m feeling at the moment? Not a clue. The truth is, I’m about to embark on a huge journey which is way out of my comfort zone... Away from my family, Alex, and the emotional security of those closest to me. Let’s be honest, I don’t like the idea of change that much. I am a creature of habit, but was also born with a thirst for adventure… It is an odd combination, I have to admit. I am however, really lucky to be travelling with fellow climbing and comp buddy, Campbell Harrison who has become a great interstate friend after the years of Aussie comps we’ve been in together.

This plane will (hopefully) be landing in Munich, Germany where Campbell and I begin a 3-month trip across Europe. We will be training at all sorts of cool gyms across the continent and competing in 5 Lead World Cups, 1 Boulder World Cup and both Lead and Boulder at the World Championships in Paris…that’s 8 comps in total!!

One of the goals I’ve set myself for this trip is to work on controlling my nerves and head-space by doing as many international competitions as possible. I figure the only way to better my performance at an international level is to expose myself to that type of pressure and atmosphere as much as possible and gain the experience I need to make the unfamiliar, familiar. Basically my aim is to transform what is out of my comfort zone, into familiar turf where unfamiliarity can no longer hinder my performance. It also excites me incredibly to have the time and opportunity while on this trip to train really hard between comps and learn as much as I possibly can through talking to other climbers and also by experimenting with trial and error.
Chamonix World Cup 2015 - Photograph by Ciro Tracey
The adventure ahead of me is really only just beginning to sink in as I’ve been so focused on Nationals and Oceania Lead Champs (which were only 2 days ago at SICG Villawood, Sydney). It was another great comp and I’m really happy to come away from it as the Open A Female National and Oceanic Champion. While I’m incredibly thrilled about the title, I’m not 100% pleased with my performance this year. I feel I did not climb as well or as confidently as I did at last year’s Nationals and for some reason my head just wasn’t in the right space. Although it’s been a clean sweep for me this year, winning every Australian Lead State Title in Open A’s, some comps have definitely been better than others in terms of my performance. I understand it’s crazy to expect my best performance at every single comp… but as an athlete, I feel like I have no choice but to put that pressure on myself. I believe it is a healthy type of pressure though, if I continue to go about it the right way. It’s just important for me to remember to understand and continually focus on how I can always improve even if I won the comp. Likewise if I were to not win at a comp, I would focus constructively on why I fell off as opposed to dwelling on the lack of title.

I am really keen to work on my self-confidence over the next 3 months and return to Australia not only stronger, but mentally refreshed, confident and as psyched as ever! I can’t wait to see what awesome things Europe and these next few months have to offer.

James Kassay and I on podium as Australian National and Oceanic Champions for 2016 
Chamonix World Cup 2015 - Photograph by Rob Parer