Chinese Delights and Delays!
I had never realised how big China is and I still can not comprehend the amount of people there are in China. In Chongqing the number to blocks of flats is overwhelming! Their lifestyle, culture and language is almost alien, it was amazing to see and experience their way of life.
The night before I left for China a nasty horrible mean cold hit me. It was not nice at all and it only got worse. 19 and a half hours of travelling to get Chongqing when I wanted nothing more than to be tucked up with bed with a box of tissues and a lemsip. I took 3 flights in a total daze not really knowing what was going on, it was lucky that I made it to the right places at the right times. Arriving in the hotel was bliss, just knowing the traveling was done for a while and that I would be in bed soon. If I had stayed in this state I would not have been competing, it was a struggle to leave my bed let alone the hotel. With some help I managed to get hold of some Chinese medicine which totally sorted me out, within two days I no longer felt that I could barely breathe, my head didn’t hurt to move and my nose no longer felt like it might explode.
I had a few days in Chongqing before the competition, one was spent in bed and on the other a small group of us adventured into Chongqing in the rain and smog, all we found amongst the endless blocks of flats was an underground market which was interesting but very dirty and smelly (luckily I still could breathe through my nose:).
I was quite anxious about the competition, what would the walls be like, would my cold affect me much, how hard will the boulder be? Questioning many things but mostly I questioned my expectations, how was I going to do? I had looked at the start list, it was an impressively strong list of women, and decided to aim for top 10.
We had to get up an go to the opening ceremony nice and early even though we didn’t compete until afternoon but it allowed us to check out the wall whilst the male qualification took place which made me feel more comfortable and ready. The opening ceremony was actually quite entertaining as there were fireworks and loads of dancers. Alex, Mina and I went back to the hotel for a few hours to chill out and relax before qualifiers. I climbed 12th, I felt ready and psyched to start the 2012 world bouldering cup series. The qualification problems were quite an unusual style with a few awkward moves, lots of slopers and some big lock off. I flashed 3 of the boulders but I made silly mistakes on the others, on problem 3 where I faffed with my feet too much and on problem 4 I jumped instead of getting my foot up, luckily I learnt my lessons quick and got both of the boulders second attempts. I was annoyed at myself as I knew I had the ability to flash the boulders but I was one of only 5 to top all of the boulders however, I was the only person not to flash them all so I placed 5th.
I had not expected to place 5th at all so this I was very pleased with, if I could stay in 5th I would be in finals which was exciting but also made me more nervous for semi finals. The semi final boulder problems were really really hard. I flashed one and got 3 bonuses. When I fall off in a comp I always try to quickly evaluate why I came off and what I can do to make sure it doesn’t happen next time. On the boulder problems in semi finals I had no clue what I could do differently, I had a slight idea of how they could be done but they were out of my league. I was not happy at all with my performance, they felt so hard. It turned out that they were hard, really really hard as my 1 flash and 3 bonuses placed me in 3rd.
I could almost not believe it, I was in finals and no matter what I had placed 6th now and I would be happy with that. When finals came around I was so tired that I could barely warm up. My back was already aching from the previous rounds but I was looking forward getting stuck in to the 4 final boulders. The first had a big shoulder move on a tiny little crimp near to the top, I knew when I got to this point I did not have the ability to do this move but I was happy to get up to there. The second boulder was amusing, I got it on my 5th attempt. There was some really cool beta with a high left foot and a high right toe hook, it took me a while but I figured it out. The third boulder was impossible and stumped us all at the same place, which I always find quite annoying as it is then like we are then only competing on 3 boulders. The final boulder was similar. Most of us got to round about the same place and I am not sure the end was possible well not in 4 minutes anyway. In the end I placed 4th, Jain Kim came third as she took fewer attempts to get problem 2. Anna Stohr 2nd and Akio 1st both completing two boulders. It is such an amazing feeling to be competing with such strong and inspirational athletes. I am really looking forward to the next comp.
One last breakfast of rice and vegetables and an afternoon left to explore China. Myself, Vera and Walter (two of the dutch competitors) went to an unusual place full of little stalls and shops where we met Mina and Alex. There were 10 floors and each floor had a theme, there was even a floor of international restaurants which kinda took the the Chinesey feel away. However, the Traditional Chinese Crafts floor definitely entertained us and we bartered to get some fans and jewellery for souvenirs.
At the airport I sat reading waiting to check in looking forward to getting the journey home over and done with totally oblivious to the nightmare that awaited me. My first flight was delayed by 3 hours but luckily there was an earlier plane with a few spaces left , this had also ben delayed for hours but it mean I left only an hour later than I was supposed to still leaving me more than enough time to catch my next flight. I arrived in Beijing ready for the big one knowing I would be home in the morning. There was a large crowd around the international flight tickets for my airline and when I got to the check in desk the woman said nothing and just pointed to the nice long line of people waiting to get new tickets. My flight had been cancelled! I spent the next two hours going from queue to queue first to rearrange my flights, then another to get my tickets and finally to ask about the hotel. I was told at least 5 times that there would be a bus in 20 minutes for the hotel and to just wait, I waited and waited and waited. I arrived in Beijing at 11pm hoping to leave at 1.30am I left the airport to go to the hotel just after 3am. And I arrived back in the airport at 7am. And left for good at 9.30am! I arrived in Frankfurt airport 10 and a half hours later psyched to be in europe where the are actual toilets and I could eat something other than rice. To top the journey off I had one flight left back to Manchester after waiting two hours I wondered over to the check in desk to find the flight was delayed for an unknown amount of time. Thankfully it was only an hour this time!
I have to say I am sooo happy to be home, no more rice for breakfast or people being fascinated with my blonde hair and my Englishness! I have learnt not to fly with Air China and that China is an interesting experience but not my favourite country. I have a few days at home now and then its off to Sloveina and Austria for the next two World Bouldering Cups. I will let you know how they go…
Photo Credits : Heiko Wilhelm
Full Results List: Here!