Munich – A New Perspective
Another airport, another flight and I was in Munich once again for the last round of the World Bouldering Cup series. After a taxi journey to the Olympic stadium and then a hilly walk to the venue I arrived crutched out and totally lost in emotion. The guys were up first so I got to have a nice leisurely breakfast with the girls before heading to the comp. It was there the surreal and lost feeling to the weekend began. Breakfast didn’t matter as much as usual and my head was in a place it had never been. All of the girls on the team are amazing and they were so helpful but I felt so distant from them.
At competitions you have to be very self absorbed because you need to do all that you can to perform at you best. I don’t mean in a negative way towards others but you have to think about your own needs. I cannot say how other people are before, during and after comps because I guess everyone has their own way of doing and dealing with things but I know how I usually feel so I wanted to stay out of the way as much as possible.This trip made me think about how big the whole head game is. Its not just about the morning before or even the night before a competition. I think the mental game starts from the moment you decided your doing the competition and the moment you decided what result you will be happy with (and the real result not the one you tell people). There are infinite things that have an effect throughout the build up to an event and I guess the day of the event is when the true mental test begins. The majority of the competitors easily have the ability to do the qualification boulders. But its the ones who have their head in the right place that will be at the top of the results list. Sometimes mistakes happen but it is how you deal with them. Even the people at the top can have a bad performance and I guess this is usually due to the mental aspect as these people have demonstrated their ability so many times. This competition had examples of this in both the male and female qualifiers. It was strange being there and not having to make any conscious efforts to maintain my psyche and composure as it didn’t matter for me. I was viewing the competition from a completely different perspective for the first time so I was able to see what it feels like from both sides, as a spectator and a competitor. Although, I had my own head game of dealing with not being in the event and controlling my emotions, mainly frustration.
Watching the mens qualifiers was not so bad. The GB guys did awesome Stew, Ned and Adam were all though to the semi finals so spirits were high as the women headed into isolation. And after an epic and unsuccessful walk (crutch) to try and find lunch it was time to watch the female qualification…
In qualifiers the top ranked climbers go first so I would have been out second. Anna, Akiyo and Mina Markovic were the first three out. Mina Markovic and Akiyo were the only people who could beat me overall so I was interested to see how they performed. Mina Markovic looked really strong and qualified in joint 5th place for semis which I was surprised by but not as much as Anna and Akiyo. Akiyo ended up in 9th and Anna 11th. It was when I saw their placements I started to wonder how I would have done. Would I have seen the sequences and topped the boulders. Basically I am never going to know so there was no point at all thinking about it yet I couldn’t resist. Most of the time when I pull on to a boulder, especially in qualifiers, I am a bit nervous and I never normally know how I got to the top. It just seems to work out, so looking at these boulders was totally pointless as a spectator and climbing mindset is incomparable. What definitely did ease my frustration, was watching Mina Leslie-Wujastyk absolutely crush! Topping all five boulders and qualifying in joint 5th with Mina Markovic! And then Katy Whitt also climbed amazing qualifying for semi finals in 15th.
There were times in the day where I wished I was at home not thinking about the comp at all, which was a very unlikely situation, if I was at home I would be watching the live feed anyway. There were also points where frustration almost got the better of me with the unanswered question circling in my mind… why did I have to break my stupid leg?! Back on a positive note I got to be more aware and put more energy into supporting the GB athletes and learn from this new outlook on competition. By the end of the day my broken leg story was beyond well rehearsed and I had enough sympathetic looks to last me a lifetime and I made it through the day with out tears or anger. I have been told a few times to log the experience under character building, I thought this was stupid at first but it kinda makes sense now.
I was not really looking forward to watching semi finals if I am honest. I wanted to be there competing and defending my overall position not watching to see where I would end up based other peoples performances. After watching the first few climbers I knew it was going to be a hard to qualify for the finals. Topping all 4 boulders put you in for sure but to get in with 3 they had to be done fast. The boulders looked like so much fun. It was hard to watch when I wanted to be up there climbing so much but with the intensity of the overall results and the excitement of so many Brits in Semi Finals I was very lost in emotions. As the end of the Semi Finals neared Mina M was in 5th place and Akiyo in first. If both made it to finals I had to watch my changes of not making the overall podium play out. Mina was bumped out of Finals and finished in 8th place. It was so unfortunate for her as she really did look so strong but I guess thats the way it goes and her not making finals also meant I was guaranteed 3rd place overall.
Akiyo climbed amazingly well and looked super strong so I accepted my overall position here. It was time for no more nerves for me and to enjoy watching the finals. I had never realised how exciting and intense finals are. I thought I wouldn’t get nervous but got more nervous watching than I have ever been competing. Akiyo put on a flawless performance topping every boulder on her first attempt. The boulders looked like really cool, maybe a little too easy for the girls with 5 out of the 6 finalists topping everything but it was still a good show to watch. I was definitely sat on the wrong side of the barriers and although I really did enjoy watching I never want to find myself sat there again. I guess it was quite a motivating experience. The mens finals was also incredible to watch with Stewart Watson of Team GB finishing in 5th. The guys boulders were very gymnastic and really entertaining.
I am very glad the weekend is over. I knew it would be hard but I wasn’t too sure how I would feel after it all. 3rd place overall is more than I could ever have imagined at the beginning of the year. I am not disappointed in the slightest. Anna and Akiyo are amazing athletes and both a massive inspiration to me. I am really looking forward to joining them again next year.
I have sore hands and really tight shoulders from all the crutching this weekend. Surely it has to be good training. I have to thank Mina for carrying my bag to the airport and then pushing me around on a trolley. All of the team were so helpful! Thank you! On Monday the 3rd September I have my next x-ray. Fingers crossed that its healing up and I can finally begin to walk!