More than 500 competative climbers all over the world, over 20.000 spectators and 5 days of comptition in the prestigious AccorHotels Arena in Paris, that is in short how the biggest climbing event in the world looks like. Four years ago the World Championships were held in this Arena as well, and the routes, atmosphere and videos of that championships overwhelmed me. From that moment I knew: if I ever get the opportunity, I will grab it with two hands. This year, that time had come and on Tuesday the 13th I found myself in Paris.
These world championships were my first encounter with an international sportsclimbing competition. For this fact, as well as for the fact that I did not had the chance to train a lot before the competition, I setted my expectations on zero and promised myself to just experience and enjoy my debut in the international competitions.
After arriving at the campside at the border of Paris (much cheaper and less busy/noisy than an hotel, definately recommendable) with my mother, we went into the city centre to have a look at the Arena were the competition is held. On big screens at the exterior of the building the programme of the Arena was shows. Big events like concerts of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Justin Bieber and the sportevent BNP Paribas are in this Arena. That the world championships climbing are hold in this place marks the increasing popularity of climbing.
Wednesday was the day of my qualifications. I woke up early and was surprised that I was not that much nervous. Just little after thinking about whether that was a good thing or not, the nerves arrived and at the time I was in the Arena standing in front of the big wall I was pretty stressed. There were two starting groups and both groups had to climb two qualification routes. I was in group B and had to climb the two routes on the right side. All four routes looked like real beauty's, starting on a slightly overhang wall, then continueing a heavy overhanging wall and ending in another slightly overhanging wall. Especially the heavy overhanging wall part looked like great fun to climb. After warming up and watching some other girls climbing, it was my time to climb. I tied in to the rope and while walking to the route I enjoyed the feeling of being on this podium, on which so many famous people performed. I hoped I was also able to have a nice performance here. Then I started climbing. The beginning was easier than expected and before I knew it I was in the heavy overhanging part. Surprised by how easy that first part felt I was not awake enough when I had to make a far move and before I knew it, I was back on the ground. I was frustrated that I could be so stupid and even more frustrated because I didn't wanted to be frustrated but just enjoy the competition. Luckily, there also was a second route.
After a small break and encouraging some of the other Dutchies, my mindset was good again and I started focussing on the second route. Again I warmed up, this time with extra focus on far movements. Again I watched some other girls, tied in at the rope and enjoyed my walk to the route. in contrast to the first route I was not stressed anymore, but just motivated to enjoy the route. And that is exactly what I did: Fluently climbed through the first part, enjoying the holds, the moves, the atmosphere and the climbing. Then I reached the heavy overhanging wall and out of nowhere, the pump was in my arms and it felt like I couldn't do anything anymore. A kneebar made it possible to have a bit of a rest and with all willpower I had I jumped to the next hold, grasped it and made the next move. At this point the lactic acid in my arms won in from my willpower and I fell off. Happy to have climbed in this route untill I was pumped and happy that I was able to enjoy the climbing I finished the qualification round. My scores were not good enough for a place in the semi final (best 26), but I was really happy that I managed to chance my mindset after the second route. Furthermore, I learned a lot about how it is to compete in such an event and it made me very motivated to train more, harder and better so that next time I can show more!
Thursday and Friday were qualification rounds and some semifinals of the different disciplines (lead, boulder, speed and paraclimbing). As the weather was good, I made these mornings a morning run, followed by a visit in the city centre to see the things Paris offers. Saterday I was in the Arena again, for the openingsceremony and the finals of the man bouldering and women lead competition. As the flag bearer for the Netherlands, the openingsceremony was a special one for me. Together with the flag bearers from all other participating countries I marched in a line towards the podium while waving with the big flag. From the podium, I was looking straight into the Arena, which was completely filled with about 10.000 spectators. The flag bearer next to me was Niraj from Nepal, someone I got to know when I was there. It was really great seeing him again and it made us realize how small the world is.
After the openingsceremony, the finals started with the men boulder final. Four really diverse boulders were served to the climbers, and it was amazing to see how the men climbed them. A big congratz to Tomoa Narasaki who won this final with his elegant and spectacular climbing. Then it was time for the men visual impairment. Admirable to see how these guys can climb without seeing anything: their final route was about 7b and the old Japanese Koichiro Kobayashi almost topped the route! The women lead final was the last final on Saturday. I really hoped that the Belgian Anak would win the competition. She did really great and without having any trouble she topped the route! However, Janja also topped the route, and as she had a better score in the semi final, Anak became second. A true pity that the final route was too easy, especially because all other routes and boulders at the competition seemed to be perfect.
All the semi's and finals are streamed on the youtube channel of the IFSC, so if you were not able to see them live, get your chance and watch the competition! The spectacular routes, immensively strong climbers and the great Arena filled with people encouraging the climbers are definitely worth a look.
Now, after the competition, I am still full of motivation and energy caused by the amazing experience. Training modus is on, and hopefully I can become stronger and better than ever for the next international competition. Paris tastes like more!
Movie of my first route, film creds to Aukje :-):