Monday, 23 September 2013

IFSC International Paraclimbing Cup

So I've just returned from a very busy weekend, volunteering at the Westway Sports Centre as a physiotherapist for the GB Paraclimbing Team, as part of the IFSC International Paraclimbing Cup.

It was a fantastic weekend, with teams from USA, India, Italy, France and Spain, along side the GB climbers. The competition was hosted by the BMC and the IFSC. 

Over the weekend, I got to meet Mark Wilkinson, of Paragon Physiotherapy, who specializes in spinal injuries and had done some previous work with the GB Paraclimbing Team. We did some joint assessments on a couple of the Team who required some guidance on their rehab, such as an ankle, wrist, and the obvious finger injuries. This was great learning as we got to brainstorm different theories and share knowledge.

Then, the climbers got on with the two qualifying routes. It was really inspiring to see climbers who were visually impaired, had a neurological physical disability, or had an amputated limb climb hard routes with such style and finesse, you wouldn't think they had a disability once they were on that climbing wall. 

Lower limb amputees warming up

Fran Brown (GB) on the qualifiers

Sianagh Gallagher (GB) on the qualifiers

The following day, the climbers entered isolation and proceeded to exit one by one to compete in the final. The hardest of these routes, on a steep, overhanging wall, were up to F7c+ and it was impressive, and inspiring to see the climbers work the way up these. 

Ronnie (USA) on the qualifiers

Tom Perry (GB) on qualifiers

One of the French visual impaired climbers on qualifier

Over the weekend, I got to meet many people just as invested in paraclimbing as the paraclimbers themselves, such as Graeme Hill (GB Team manager), Andy Colbart (GB Team assistant manager and IFSC Paraclimbing President),  John Ellison (of Climbers Against Cancer), the family, friends, supporters, spectators, photographers, route setters....just too many to mention. 
It was fantastic to meet some of the athletes themselves, such as the USA climbers Ronnie and Jon, GB Team Fran Brown, Tom Perry, Sianagh Gallagher and Reanne Racktoo. 

One of the French climbers on the final route

Spanish finalist being lowered from his high point

I also thoroughly enjoyed watching the skill and balance that these climbers demonstrated and the mature attitude shown by all the climbers involved. It was also brilliant to see the comradeship of those competing with each other, with all athletes cheering each other on.

I came away awed, with more knowledge than I had previously, and I am very much looking forward to future work with the GB Paraclimbing Team.
Hopefully more pictures will follow as they surface!
Check out the BMC report on the competition.

Lower limb amputee podium