AND WE'RE OFF ... MEIRINGEN, CH

 Topping on bloc 4 in the qualifiers

Topping on bloc 4 in the qualifiers

And so here we go ... the 2016 WC is fully under way, and what a start! 

Last year I completed my first full IFSC Boulder World Cup season after taking some time off to rehab my shoulder injury. Going into the season, essentially without training, I didn't know what to expect from my performances and went in with the aim of making a semi-finals and finding out what my base level would be. I came away having learnt a lot about myself and my performance and with a hunger to do better. 

I took the decision to train full time and joined forces with Shauna as a training partner and Mark as our coach. Hard work doesn't come close to describing what we do, however I also don't think I've ever laughed so much in my life. I had no clue how my body would react to becoming a full time athlete and there were days that it tested me. I'm not a 'crier' but i'll openly admit that it's been a complete emotional rollercoaster.

After all the training, the 2016 season seemed to come around really quick, I still felt like I should have had another 3 months of training to do. I knew I was stronger than last year, possibly stronger than I have ever been, but I felt apprehensive as to where I stood against the other girls on the circuit. A lot of competition success is down to your mental strength - aka 'head game', and I was hoping mine had strengthened along with my climbing since the 2015 season; for me this is something that I can only really test when I am in a competition scenario. 

And so to my performance in Switzerland ... I'm happy to say that my 'head game' felt strong. Bloc 1, the infamous slab, was MEGA frustrating, and caused a lot of people a lot of problems, myself included, I managed to top it in 5 attempts. Being able to put that to one side and then come out and flash the next four blocs, that was a great feeling. 

 Semi-finals bloc 2 | pic: DavidSchweizer.ch

Semi-finals bloc 2 | pic: DavidSchweizer.ch

Honestly, I wasn't sure where my performance would put me, I knew I'd climbed well, but basing my performance on previous seasons I was expecting everyone else to do better. Scanning the results board for my name, I was much higher than expected.

For me, the 4 blocs that I managed to flash really didn't seem that hard and I expected my performance on the slab to cost me in positions. However, it seemed that other people had fallen off some blocs that I hadn't expected them to, or hadn't topped them at all. In my head, the other girls climbers are stronger than me. It has occurred to me that my training may be paying off more than I had originally realised; Mark & Shauna have whipped me into shape.

Coming out into the Semi finals I was super pleased to be there and ready to take everything as it came. In short, there were some stern blocs set for us. 2 tops was enough to put you in a minimum 7th place (6 go through to the finals). Again my head game seemed on point, despite not being able to top the first two blocs, I still managed to come out and flash the third boulder, a boulder which a lot of strong girls didn't even top. The one that got away, the fourth bloc, felt really close for me, I just need a little more time, such is the way of a competition. 

 The perplexing and rather awkward first bloc of semi-finals | pic: DavidSchweizer.ch 

The perplexing and rather awkward first bloc of semi-finals | pic: DavidSchweizer.ch 

Anyway, to summarise, if you had asked me where I would place in my first competition of the 2016 season, I would not have guessed 11th. I am absolutely delighted and it's time for me to recalibrate my expectations for  each round and try to improve every time. Ultimately, I am here to give my best. 

For me it is also important to remind myself that it is just one comp. Every one brings different challenges. I am now in Japan, the next round begins tomorrow and the slate is wiped clean ... back into quali's, back to square one. I must give another solid performance and hopefully the hard work will pay off again. Fingers crossed we'll have another finals with multiple British girls at some point this season!

Finally, I would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU TO YOU ALL for the support you give me. It means so much to me and makes all the difference on these crazy journeys. I really appreciate it.

Stay tuned for Kazo, LC x