Harrison and Stirling climb to new heights at World Games
11 August 2017
SPORT CLIMBING: Before Sport Climbing makes its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, two Australian athletes had the chance to test themselves against the world’s best at the 2017 World Games in Wroclaw last month.
Campbell Harrison and Lucy Stirling were the Oceania representatives in bouldering and lead climbing at the 10th installment of the international multi-sport event.
After advancing to the Lead finals in 5th place, Harrison finished 8th in the final, and 8th again in the Boulder event.
“I was really pleasantly surprised with my placing’s at the World Games,” said the 20-year-old.
“The level of competition was by far the most elite I have ever been a part of. At other high level comps there can be over 100 competitors, but here all categories had 12 or less climbers that had been selected as the best from their continents, or throughout the world.
“At times I know I could have climbed better, but the experience that I gained will be incredibly valuable going forward.”
A poorly timed illness plagued Stirling’s World Games performance where she finished equal 10th in Lead and 11th in Bouldering.
“I didn't feel 100% for both Boulder and Lead qualifications but luckily it passed fairly quickly and I was well enough to climb,” Stirling said.
“Given the circumstances, I was pleased with my overall performance on the boulder and lead wall, but at the same time disappointed I was not able to give it my very best because of my recent illness.”
While she may have not performed at her peak, the Brisbane local took a lot of lessons away from the Wroclaw experience.
“The small field of competitors made it a very high standard and I went in wanting to give it everything no matter what. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain from competing in such a fantastic event.
“The most important thing I've learnt is that you must truly believe you belong and that you have every ability to complete each route/problem, no matter who your competition is,” the 23-year-old said.
Director of Sport Climbing Australia, Romain Thevenot, said the pair’s results directly reflect their dedication and the sacrifices they have made to excel in their sport.
"Both Lucy and Campbell achieved outstanding performances and it is really promising for the future of Australian climbing,” Thevenot said.
“They were competing with the top athletes in the world, with most of them having won World Cups.
“Campbell placed 5th after the qualifier in Lead and 8th in Boulder. This performance is as high as some potential Olympic medallists.
Sport Climbing Australia is part of the AOC's Olympic Solidarity Funing program which sees them receive $100,000 over four years to assist their athletes in striving towards the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“Our athletes have been competing at an international level on a regular basis since only recently and we can already see major improvements with their performances,” Thevenot said.
When sport climbing makes its Olympic debut at Tokyo all three disciples – Speed, Lead and Boulder – will be contested by every athlete in a combined event. This will prove a challenge for many climbers who often specialise in one disciple and will have to extend themselves to excel at all three for a shot at Olympic Glory.
“Tokyo 2020 is the opportunity of a lifetime, but for my entire climbing life I have always aspired to be a great Lead climber, whereas the Olympic format requires you to do all three disciplines,” Campbell said.
“I think in terms of both the Olympics and the World Cup circuit, I still have a long way to go, but learning and becoming proficient in all different forms of climbing can only grow my potential as an athlete.
“The World Games showed me the sort of atmosphere and feeling I might come to expect at an Olympic Games, and it would be really exciting to be a part of something like that again.”
Stirling agrees the Olympic dream is a challenging, but not unattainable goal.
“The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are definitely something I am working towards and I feel that by competing in as many international competitions as possible, it will allow me to gain the experience and training necessary to prepare me to qualify for the Olympic Games.”
Campbell and Stirling are still contesting World Cup events overseas, soaking in as much international competition experience as possible.