I won’t lie. I had high hopes for this year’s BBC competition. I felt like I was in pretty good shape, perhaps not the best of my life, but certainly good enough shape to give the others a run for their money. My PMA was on overdrive and I hoped that the stars would align in order to allow me just one good competition performance.
On Saturday night Doylo asked me why I continued to go to competitions and humiliate myself, not realising that his question also contained the answer. If you’re exceptionally bad at something there are usually two choices; give up or keep trying until you become great. Giving up never sat too well with me, so a stream of humiliation is my chosen path. I told him I was feeling good and that I thought I had a half decent chance of posting a good result. He gave me only one simple command; don’t lose to anyone who hasn’t bouldered 8A.
Sunday morning I arose far too early to head down to register, which was when I hit the first barrier. I hadn’t pre-registered and when I arrived I was told the competition was full. Oh. I explained I’d come a long way for this comp and that I really needed to do it, but was offered a place on a rather long waiting list. Useless. Luckily, Nick Clement was good enough to work a little magic and managed to squeeze me into the competition, so I felt extra compelled to put in a good performance. Then I sighted Jerry Moffatt and immediately knew this was all the motivation I needed. It was all coming together in perfect harmony, or so I wilfully anticipated.
The qualification started and the first two problems where very easy so they were ticked off in no time. Then came the next eight, which all looked either hard or tricksome. I watched as people floundered, failed, and fell off with only the very best managing to get to the top of some of them. I wasn’t intimidated or nervous, but I was a little worried that my body wouldn’t fare well when it came to inserting myself into a strange groove involving reverse palms and widespread feet. Then there was a massive roof with some horrible looking volumes which did nothing for my inspiration. Then there was a crimpy one which led to a slopey volume, after which only 2 moves remained to the final hold which was generously set as a 2 finger pocket. There was no doubt that this was one of the hardest problems, as I hadn’t seen anyone do the move from the volume upwards. When Dave B fell off the sloper I was a little surprised, but I also knew my own strengths and I saw the potential. I might not be able to do the splits or do odd chimney moves, but I know I can hold on to slopers and it quickly dawned on me that this problem would be my ticket into the final. I was fairly sure no one else would do it, so I tried the other problems and then returned to get my ticket into the final. As I stood beneath it ready to begin I heard the unmistakable tunes from The Real Thing blaring over the sound system. This was it, fate had finally decided to join me on my side of the net instead of smashing the ball into my court. I set off knowing it was all about to fall into place. I matched the volume, did the move off it, grabbed a crimp, tamed the swing, and set up the final move to the pocket. As I flicked towards it I watched in slow motion as my fingers fumbled the lip of the pocket and instead of going in they just went slightly too far right. As I fell downwards I realised fate was serving me another ace and I hit the mat knowing I wouldn’t make the final. I’d lacked the precision, and I’d lacked the precision because I simply didn’t climb well enough. It wasn’t fate, it was only one persons fault; mine. I had missed the finals, I’d lost to people who hadn’t bouldered 8A, and I’d ended up in 12th place.
I often wonder why more people don’t do competitions and I sometimes think it’s because there is no one else to blame apart from yourself when things go wrong. There are no second chances, competitions asks you to perform at your best on demand and this is a very difficult thing to do, which is why I have great respect and admiration for those who consistently perform well in major competitions. It’s a skill I sorely lack, but one I would very much like to have and I know it’s possible to get it. I do feel like I underperformed in this competition but then again I always feel like that as I can see how far I’ve fallen short of where I should be. However, I’m not disappointed as I have no room or time to feel sorry for myself. I’ve simply taken what I can from it, which is the simple lesson of needing far more practice. Practice makes perfect. Or perhaps it should be that an infinite amount of practice makes perfect, but since we are finite we can only ever strive for perfection, which is what I’m trying to do.
Now that this competition is over I can return to where I love to be, which is out on the rocks. I’ve got definite goals set out for this year in terms of my bouldering, and in my sport climbing career I only want to begin the journey. My goals were only reaffirmed after a bit of a chat with Dan Varian (of beastmaker fame) as he was hanging from various small holds in the cellar on Ned’s house. His psyche and dedication is definitely infectious (just like Ned’s) which is why those guys will continue to improve and go from strength to more strength. I want to get in better shape, be faster, stronger, smarter, more prepared, and return to my projects to slay them with ultimate skill.
I’m heading back to Font tomorrow and then back down to Innsbruck for a summer of editing and climbing on the rocks. Summer will be a time for improving and autumn will be time for sending. I feel revitalised now and my horrific comp performance is well and truly learned from (not forgotten!). I’ll be back next year for the BBC’s and my goal won’t have changed, but my preparation will have…
This is a rather long and boring video I made a couple of years ago after a particularly interesting trip to Magic Wood. This was the first video I ever made with my video camera so it stands as a reminder to how much I’ve learned since then (read; it’s boring and badly edited!). However, the overall message is one that’s probably pertinent right now…