Competitions 2020: the way forward

Posted by Dave Turnbull on 13/12/2019

After a 12-month review process led by Rab Carrington, the BMC’s Competitions Working Group reported its findings last month and the BMC Board and National Council have now agreed a way forward for competition climbing and the performance pathway ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

The Working Group investigated different structural options for managing competition climbing and concluded by recommending a new internal department alongside a programme of regular review and evaluation to measure its progress and success. This was discussed at length by the BMC Board on 25 November and at National Council on 7 December. In summary, the BMC has now formally agreed to set up the new department for competition climbing and this is now being put in motion.

How will the new department operate?

The department will be overseen by a newly established sub-committee of the BMC Board. The Competition Climbing Performance Group (CCPG) will have delegated authority for competitions and the performance programme and will take over from the previous BMC Competitions Committee. Membership of the CCPG is being finalised but will include a chair, a BMC Board member, representatives from Mountaineering Scotland and the Association of British Climbing Walls (ABC), one or more senior BMC staff members, an athlete representative and an external specialist; in due course a representative from funding agency UK Sport may also be included.

What will it be called and what will it cover?

The new department will operate under the name - GB Climbing. The BMC has run the GB Climbing Team for many years so the name is an obvious choice. The model will be similar to that used by Mountaineering Scotland with its Climb Scotland initiative. The CCPG and GB Climbing will be responsible for all aspects of competition climbing, the GB Climbing Team and the Paraclimbing Team, the development of the talent pathway and the performance programme; it will encompass work undertaken by both the BMC’s competitions staff and the UK Sport funded staff working on the medal support plan for climbing based at the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in Sheffield.

When will it be in place?

Terms of reference for the CCPG will be drafted in early January 2020 and a ring-fenced budget framework will be put in place. The chair will be recruited and appointed in late January / early February and the new department will be fully functional by mid-April.

How will success be measured?

The BMC Board will monitor the success of the department on a quarterly basis. The precise measures are yet to be fully defined but will include satisfaction surveys, financial measures and athlete performance measures.

What are the funding prospects?

Discussions with UK Sport have been positive and climbing has a strong case for additional financial support in the 2021-24 funding cycle. The grant application process is underway and in mid-January UK Sport will give an indication of the likely level of funding for climbing. If successful this could cover several new staff positions, including a Performance Director, from April 2021.

These are exciting times for competition climbing and the BMC is committed to making the new structure work.


GB Climbing is supported by the BMC, Mountaineering ScotlandClif Bar, and Duco.

The GB Paraclimbing Team is supported by Oakwood Climbing Centre and Quay Climbing Centre. The GB Ice Climbing Team is supported by Montane. Many UK walls also support the GB Climbing through free or subsidised entry.

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HIGHLIGHTS: 2019 La Sportiva British Bouldering Championships


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