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Strong as a mountain, dynamic as a flower

By Flo Tilley | 20, Aug, 2012

Calm and composed on the Imst climbing wall

A few weeks ago I had my 3rd European. It was held at the Kletter Zentrum Imst, Austria. Its comp wall is placed outside and is AMAZING. If you’ve ever been to Ratho, it makes it look small. But to make it even more impressive it is surrounded by snow sprinkled mountains. We had another display of the British Team’s strength. Again we got 3 finalist: Luke Tilley, Alex Waterhouse and William Bosi and some pretty awesome climbing from those not reaching the final!

Qualifier 1 looked reachy, pumpy and fun. Unfortunately, I was 35th on, although giving me plenty of viewing time, it also gave me time to get shaky and nervous. I had watched both Gracie and Molly reach the first crux; a long and powerful move which spat both of them off. But I was determined to stick the hold and climb on.

Qualifier 1
As I got to my chair to start tying on, the sun was beating down, not helping my ever rising nerves. It was my turn to face the climb. I was too nervous to climb at my full potential but I tried to push this thought away, just focusing on the next move, trying to get my feet right and to make my clipping good. However my nerves got the better of me and I came off because of a misjudged foot sequence. I came down, frustrated, knowing this was not the best performance I could have done. After having lunch back in our apartment and a good long 5 hour rest we made our way back to the wall. Here we discovered that my 2nd qualifier was the Junior Female's qualifier 1.

Qualifier 2
I knew I couldn’t let the previous climb faze this one: this would be a new start. Being 15th on, it also meant I had enough climbers to get me psyched and ready to climb but not too many to get me quite as nervous. I felt more calm and composed as I stepped on the climb this time. I kept breathing deeply and concentrating. I felt like the climbing was going OK. I wasn’t climbing too smoothly but I had remembered to rest and so far hadn’t gone wrong. Finally I reached a big throwy move out left, a move I could have done if I was fresh and had my foot in the correct place. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. So, after just scraping the hold I fell. I fell in quite an unnerving way; smashing into the wall. This made all the spectators and competitors look my way and draw in a breath. At least I got my moment of fame...

As I was lowered, by a slightly shaken belayer, I felt happier. However I still knew that my two climbs had not witnessed my full ability! Knowing that you haven’t climbed your best in such a big competition when you’ve put in so much effort training is hard to get over. Luke however, made this so much easier.

He had seen that I was nervous on both qualifiers, especially my 1st. Being my brother, he often sees me climb and therefore knows my full ability. He knew this wasn’t it. Luke explained that it isn’t my actual physical ability letting me down: it’s not being able to control my head. He explained that he meditates, meaning when he is climbing he can keep his head and body calm. He said when he is climbing he repeats, 'I’m as strong as a mountain and as dynamic as a flower'.

Meditation obviously works wonders as he climbed awesome in the qualifiers. He made the final in 9th and then beasted it. He ended up finishing 7th! Talking to Luke helped me understand that I still have lots to learn, and even if I don’t do my best in a competition, it’s still worth it just for the experience. He also reminded me that I still have plenty of time to improve! Over all I finished 37th, not such a great result, but as I said, I’m just leaving room for improvement! And I had a pretty awesome weekend!!

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