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Sport Climbers prepared to scale new heights

30 March 2017

SPORT CLIMBING: Australian climbers will flock to Villawood in Sydney’s west this weekend for the most prestigious event on the Australian Sport Climbing calendar.

The Open National Lead and Speed Climbing Championships will see climbers in the open, masters and paraclimbing categories strive for the top – literally.

With sport climbing set to debut at Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, we might see more climbers branching out to compete in both disciplines this weekend.

Australian sport climber and member of the Australian Sports Climbing Board, Roxy Perry, caught on to the climbing competition scene in late 2010 and has qualified for every Australian team since.

The Tasmanian says the inclusion of Sport Climbing on the Olympic programme is a huge achievement for the sport.

“I have been fortunate enough to watch the sport of climbing grow tremendously over the last 13 years,” Perry said.

“I believe that being selected to have our sport included in the Olympic Games is a huge advancement for the sport, especially for Australia!

“We have gained not only plenty of recognition and support from governing sporting bodies, but from ordinary people who are leaning more and more towards sport climbing as an activity. The number of times I’ve heard the phrase, ‘wait, rock climbing is a sport?’ is most definitely diminishing.”

In the Olympic format, climbers must compete in all three disciplines: speed, lead and bouldering.

Most athletes focus in one or two disciplines, so the next Olympic Games will provide a unique challenge for most.

“I think that although competition climbers do tend to specialise in a specific discipline, or two, climbing is a very versatile sport and to adjust to a second or third discipline is a concept that any climber should be able to accept,” Perry said in regards to the Olympic format.

“Climbers will gravitate towards a discipline that they prefer, rather than what they are actually more suited to, so in this sense a lot of us will merely need to change our mindset as well as our training regime to be able to adapt to the full Olympic format.”

The competition this weekend will decide the Australian Champions in the Speed and Lead disciplines.

The Speed discipline will see athletes race to the top of a 15 metre wall.

The Lead disciple is a height and distance competition where athletes climb an overhanging wall within an eight-minute time frame. Whoever covers the longest distance without falling off, or within the time frame, will be crowned the champion.

Perry, who has competed at multiple World Youth Championships and World Cup events in Lead is looking forward to the challenge of competing in Speed this weekend.

“I have never properly competed in the discipline of Speed, at least not on the official wall, but I will be giving it a go this weekend,” she said.

“I can definitely see that climbers across Australia (and myself) will be moving across disciplines and training for all three - all those with an Olympic focus at least.

“There are athletes who are very good at all three already and they will obviously have a head start. This doesn’t mean others won’t be able to catch up though.”

The Open National Lead and Speed Climbing Championships will be held at the Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym Villawood. The Speed disciple will be contested on Friday night and the Lead event will take place on Saturday.

Follow the Sport Climbing Australia Facebook page for results and live-steams of the action.

Georgia Thompson

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