This year the British Lead Championships were held at the new wall in Sheffield, Awesome Walls Sheffield, which is a new BMC performance centre so one of the best walls to compete on a european style stage. The junior competition was held on the Saturday and there was a big turn out with about 20 in my category. The setting was done by Jan Genoux and gave some great routes. I was quite nervous because this was my first national lead competition this year. Normally I made finals with comfort but I wasn’t so sure this time! The first route had a hard top section but I felt really good on this and topped out. I felt really relieved. Next was a long steep route up the lip of the massive roof and I fell on the last move of this because of a poor foot placement which was really annoying! Anyway, only Will and Jim topped out and I qualified in 3rd joint with Alex, no surprise there! I was more chilled now but I realised that this was the competition for British Champion, the big title, and the competitiveness kicked in. I came second last year. Could I do one better?
Our final route was through the centre of the roof with hard moves all the way through it. I climbed fast and it all went really well; I made no mistakes but fell on the top wall going for a small crimp that I just couldn’t grab! I came down, feeling like I had done my best, and was please to find I had the high point at the moment. Alex fell one move before me, although I thought he looked more solid than me. Jim then came out and destroyed the route with an incredible top out! Now Will had to match it, but do it faster. Will looked strong to the last move but then dropped with the finishing jug in his hands. So close! I finished in 3rd place which I was pleased with because I couldn’t have done much better, but it still wasn’t a win.
The next day was the seniors. It was a massive jump in depth of the field, almost everyone was capable of making finals and only 8 spaces were available. We had two qualifiers as normal but both were significantly harder than youth routes. Both our route were about 8a+ which was right on the edge of my ability. I thought I had the fitness to make finals but it was just a question of how hard the routes were. The first was up the steep wall but not through the roof. I felt really confident when I climbed and enjoyed the experience. I managed to get a rest right at the end which completely saved me because I could rest before the final sequence. I felt fresh unfortunately there was an enormous move and I fell. This was good because only two people topped and I was in joint third! The next route was disgusting, like, really vertical with no positive holds and big stretched out moves, hell for me. I tried really hard and got to the crux but my lack of technique on weird moves showed itself again and I couldn’t really manage to do anything so I fell off. It wasn’t the worst effort and left me in a middle emotion of wondering if I had done well enough. After a nervous wait for about two hours I saw the results and was over the moon to have made it. Only just though; Ellis needed one move to kick me out.
5 Youth A boys made the final out of 8, which shows how competitive my category is and I’m psyched to be able to climb against all of them. The other three were men who were super strong but weren’t specialised lead competition climbers. Our final route looked amazing, unsurprisingly it went through the roof on big fat pinches with a dyno in the middle to get the crowd going. I was up first because I qualified in last position and climbed really fast and efficiently to the rest before the roof. At this point I had to clip from a set position which was really far away. I thought I wouldn’t be able to reach and was considering just dropping off but after three attempts managed to get it in. I did a little crowd raiser to get psyched and unleashed for the dyno, stuck it, yes! Next I missed a crucial kneebar which was a mistake and then my heel popped on a crucial move and I came down disappointed with my performance. I wasn’t surprised when everyone else got significantly further than me but still you get routes that just don’t go your way.
I really enjoyed the added pressure of the aura around the championships and the respect you get from winning it, however I was pleased with how I did and won of my goals is to become British Champion so next year I might make it one of my priorities to do well in.