Forget the strawberries at Wimbledon. This weekend, the cream of British bouldering headed to Cliffhanger in Graves Park, Sheffield for a battle of the biceps at the 2013 British Bouldering Championships.
There is only one word to describe this year’s British Bouldering Championships: hot. Just as last year will be remembered for the torrential rain, the heat of this weekend will be long-seared into the memories – and shoulders – of everyone present.
But whilst the blue skies and beating sun were very welcome news for the Cliffhanger organisers and ice-cream sellers, for the 85 competitors, visibly wilting in front of the overhanging boulders in a giant big-top circus tent, these two days were part climbing competition, part endurance heat challenge.
Saturday’s qualifiers saw a huge range of climbers giving maximum effort to gain a coveted slot in the semi-finals. The men’s category was bursting, with the 20 semi-final places on offer fiercely contested by both Brits and a team of visiting South Africans. Yet, with only 25 climbers in the female category, scoring a single point earned a place in Sunday’s semis.
And Sunday was a scorcher: temperatures soaring both outside and inside the tent. It started with a hard semi-final session to whittle the 40 hopefuls down to just twelve finalists. The usual names were present, along some new faces causing some concern for the more seasoned athletes. Jenny Wood and Dominic Burns – both still Juniors – qualified for the final in fifth and second place respectively.
At the end of a long afternoon, a clash with the Wimbledon final and the distractions of a Pimms bar didn’t prevent a huge crowd from gathering to watch the finals at 4pm.
To a roaring crowd, Shauna Coxsey fought slippery slopers, world-number-three powerhouse Alex Puccio and the mighty Mina Leslie-Wujastyk to successfully defend her British Bouldering Championship title this weekend in Sheffield.
“The heat wasn’t ideal, but I don’t think that it affected my climbing that much. You can't change the conditions so I try not to let them bother me too much,” explained Shauna afterwards.
That’s an understatement – Shauna didn’t fall off once in the entire competition: she flashed every problem in the qualifiers, semi-final and final. And with that score, she proved unstoppable:
“It was great to climb in front of such a big crowd, full of so many of my friends and family. The problems were really fun and I enjoyed the whole experience.“
In contrast, the men’s final went down to the wire: with three finalists vying for first place right down to the last problem. Taking just two attempts on the last problem, 2012 champ Dave Barrans rose from sixth place to first place, yet either Stewart Watson or the young Irish climber Dominic Burns could have taken the win – if they climbed the problem in one go. Neither managed, and, like Shauna, Dave Barrans retained his championship title for the second year running.
Rob Adie, BMC Competitions Officer said:
“It was great to see Shauna and Dave retain their titles. Shauna’s dominance of the female event, by not falling off a single problem all weekend and finding a hands-free rest on the final problem, showed what a world-class athlete she is.
Dominic Burns and Jennifer Wood impressed me the most though – two very young and talented athletes to watch in the future.”
Watch the winners clip
The competition was filmed for the BMC. The film is out on this week, but here’s a taster clip: interviews with Dave and Shauna:
2013 British Bouldering Championships results
View the full results
The Senior British Leading Team is supported by Sherpa Adventure Gear and Lonsdale China.
The Junior British Boulding Team is supported by Sherpa Adventure Gear and NICAS.
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