The Grand Final of the 2014 Youth Climbing Series was held at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena in Ratho last Saturday 28th June. This competition is the highlight of the competitive calendar for young climbers all over Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. This year a whopping 301 climbers competed with 29 of those representing Mountaineering Ireland. The Mountaineering Ireland team was made up of climbers from all corners of the country; from Cork to Derry, Dublin to Clare.
The 29 young climbers who competed were the top ranked climbers from the All Ireland Youth Climbing Series Final which was held at Awesome Walls, Dublin at the end of April. Between the All Ireland Final and the Grand Final in Ratho the climbers worked hard to improve the standard of their climbing and were helped in this regard by the provision of three focused training sessions, one each at; BoulderWorld Belfast, Awesome Walls Cork and Awesome Walls Dublin.
Many of the climbers and their dedicated performance support crews (parents) stayed at the same hotel for the competition. On the Friday evening before the big day the atmosphere was focused but relaxed, the team spirit was strong and the bright green team hoodies certainly made the kids stand out from the crowd.
An early start on Saturday morning ensured that there was no rushing or unnecessary stress before the competition. The team warmed up together with the older kids helping the younger ones and parents lending a hand when needed. It was great to see this level of self-direction and support across the team. Rob Adie of the BMC who was the main the competition organiser delivered an in-depth briefing to the competitors and parents. The BMC went to great lengths to highlight the importance for parents to allow the competitors to enjoy the competition without the added pressure of overzealous parents. Their efforts were very effective and the atmosphere at the competition was really positive and supportive throughout the day, allowing the competitors to get on with the business of the day; going up!
Sometimes I think that the YCS is as much a test of patience and the ability to focus when needed as it is a pure test of climbing. With over 300 people competing it was always going to be a long day, it took until 7:00pm for most of the climbing to be complete; a long day! Knowing the form of the members of the Mountaineering Ireland team and keeping a close eye on them throughout the day it looked like we were in for a few good results. Many of the kids had prepared very well for the competition; they trained, tapered, rested and refuelled like real professionals. Their efforts paid off and six of the team placed in the top ten of their categories. The overall team ranking moved up one place from last year, showing signs of general improvement across all the climbers, there’s still a long way to go, but is seems we are going in the correct direction.
The Mountaineering Ireland climbers were supported at the competition by their parents and by Michael Murphy, John Begley, Sakara Thurston, Megan Corbett, Sarah Hoare and Sean Henchion. This support helped the competitors to focus on their climbing.
Mountaineering Ireland, the parents and competitors would like to thank the BMC for organising the competition, Rob Adie, Nick Colton, Mark Alderson, Scott Forsyth, the route setting team all the volunteers and the staff of the EICA who made the day possible and such a great event.