Are we in the hunt?
My son Alistair has been waiting for this moment for several years now and for me the big question was whether we would shape up. Well the answer came even before the comp started at a boulder gym in town. We arrived to find the Austrians boys warming up with a few one arm pull ups followed shortly by Brook Raboutou casually campussing along the roof whilst having a chat to her mum.
The lead qualifiers simply reinforced the impression that there are some young climbers who strength and composure are simply mind blowing. Chatting to some of the parents and competitors I discovered that climbing is big in all the northern hemisphere. Mexico has 12 climbing Gyms in the city alone. Toronto 7 and the Regionals in the the USA have 300 starters, so you can imagine how deep the pool is at state level.
So with a pool of perhaps 150 climbers in South Africa, with almost no international exposure, no international coaches and mainly commercial climbing gyms, we are putting up an excellent show. Our climbers are much stronger than last year, but it must be said that the general standard of climbing internationally is advancing at an astonishing rate. The under 17 climbers out climbed the U19 on the same route in the finals and I think that the U15 boys and girls which include Ashima, could well have beaten the U17’s given the chance.
So we are holding our own? Yes, undoubtedly but if we are to make the top 20 we will need is to deepen the pool. We need to get every school to include climbing in their sports curriculum, identify the talent at 6 years old and get these children and their parents involved in a national training program that looks to raising a champion in 10 years time.
So the next time you see a potential champion at the weekend birthday party don’t leave the gym untill you have given them a glimpse of the awesome future climbing offers their child.
More pictures from the Youth World Champs can be found on SANCF Facebook