Dover Phoenix finish strong in the Rockmaster Climbing Competition
By Anirudh Baddepudi, UWCSEA Dover, Grade 11 Sports Journalism
On the weekend of October 1-2, 2016, the UWCSEA Dover Climbing team participated in the Rockmaster climbing competition, a regional bouldering competition organised by the Singapore Polytechnic Rock Climbing Club. It was a great experience for the team, who were able to learn and grow as climbers over the weekend. Rockmaster prides itself in being a less competitive competition compared to others in Singapore, and allows climbers to have fun and bond with other during the event, creating a really enjoyable atmosphere for the participants. Focusing on the experience of the climbers, the organisers hype up the crowd with lighting effects, upbeat music and creative routes.
Despite this, the team performed extremely well at the event. Tanika Birkbeck and Juliana Wallner were novice women finalists, and Eric Wallner was a novice men finalist, finishing in the top eight positions in the qualifying round, out of close to 60 competitors! This wasn’t just all, Eric finished 1st in the mens’ finals, an incredible achievement!! Tanika finished a close second in the womens’ category, and Juliana finished 4th!
A team of 4 UWCSEA students consisting of Lauriane Cossette, Dylan Lau, Tanika Birkbeck and Aaliya Vij competed in the team event, and finished in first place, out of 35 teams, as well. Well done to all!
Below are Eric Wallner’s experiences from the competition:
“After the summer it is always difficult to get back into the competition mindset, particularly when climbing. With many team sports it’s a collaborative effort to win; in climbing it is a collaborative effort to train, and share the win, but the win itself is completely up to the climber. Only they can prepare themselves for what will come. This puts a lot of stress and nerves on us, because it’s us out there that will either make it for fail, not a whole team. This made Rockmaster particularly difficult for me, on top of the fact that I was participating in a category that I had never been in prior to this competition, the same category I can never again participate in because of the outcome. Regardless, I was nervous like never before.
I find competing in a new competition is always fun, and should never be scary in the first stage really. Qualifications, being the first stage, are a time when you and your teammates get to share the sequences you thought up for the given routes, prepare and warm up together and finally go on to climb together in the given time we have to complete the routes. The hype around it is really crazy, we all just want to try out those routes as soon as possible to see what we are really capable of.
Rockmaster was supposed to be exactly that. It didn't quite end up that way though. I had to compete separately from my team because of a mixup in registration, which removed a lot of the fun I had because I was all alone with the crowd watching me. Albeit my friends and teammates were in the crowd, it is very different to climbing side by side with them. But, luckily I was granted with an enormous amount of focus by being alone, working almost like a machine; one problem, one try, next problem, one try and so forth until, with 6 minutes to go, I was done with all my routes. That was something I did not expect, to walk out of my competition group early with tops on all routes.
Having the qualifications over with, and coming in first with two more tops than any other climber in the event, I was relieved. I had given my best, and enjoyed the routes while doing so. What I then realised is that this was the last time I will ever compete in the Novice category again, because all finalists have to move onto the next category. This hit hard, because if I didn't give my all and place in the top three, I would not be able to do so in the near future as the next category is much harder and it will take me time to adjust.
I went to the finals with a stone in my stomach. I was so nervous. This was my only chance after all, and I didn't want to muck it up. Waiting in isolation until it was my turn to come on, I heard cheer after cheer as climber after climber topped route after route. I am used to it, but since it was my last possibility to compete at this level, it was completely foreign to me at that moment. Finally, when I went on, I was prepared enough to stay calm and engulf myself in what I knew was to come. As the music faded away in the background and all I could see what the wall, I started planning and preparing my first attempt. This is the competition mindset, it’s just you and the wall. The crowd fades away, and the music is just a repeating drone in the background and you are alone, together with a problem you are very keen on topping.
I messed up on the first problem and missed out on a potential top, just clocking in lots of attempts which were going to drag me down. I pushed onto the second route. Its style was completely different to the previous one; it was the style I was better at. After a quick half-minute of planning, I set off on my first attempt and topped, a flash. I was relieved; at least one top on my score sheet, and not just a bunch of attempts. Time for the third problem; an inclined, power hungry thing of a route. A top on the second attempt made me very happy, I couldn't believe that I had done it. I didn't think it was enough to let me place, not with all the other cheers I heard from the crowd, of which was massive. I had never seen such a big crowd, and only noticed after I had done my climbs. It was great feeling hearing the voices of my team cheering me on, something that made me push that little bit extra which brought me to where I am now. It was a win, by two attempts; incredibly close.
I think it was a key point in my life as it really opened my mind to the idea that nothing is unachievable if I really push hard enough for it, something which I would never have learned without the support of my amazing team and coaches, parents and fellow peers!”