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Plywoods has always felt like a bit of a special event for me. I started climbing at the old Boulder UK when I was 9 years old and can remember my first one pretty vividly. It was my first ever comp, I was around 10 and had entered the under 16 category. I was probably the smallest and youngest competitor but still cried at coming last. I remember watching the finals upstairs and being in awe of the senior competitors and knew that I wanted to do that. It feels like I have gone full circle now as I’m getting ready 13 years later for Plywoods 2023. Despite feeling like I was simply doing my normal daily routine (get up, have breakfast, go to Boulder UK), I felt a bit of a pit in my stomach. It feels odd going to such a large event with all the regular customers and my work peers around. A week ago, I was removed from the GB bouldering team and I felt a sense of insecurity in my own climbing. I get to the wall and the boulders look amazing, the brand-new holds illuminous on the wall (so much for home wall advantage!). As soon as I started my comp warm up, I felt a small sense of confidence and excitement come back. The feeling I have grown to love. Qualifiers flew by. The climbs were fun and I didn’t climb a bad block all day! I was particularly excited to have completed the crack climb! I hung around for the afternoon qualifying session to help my grandad out with some of the climbs.

Semi-finals felt hard! The first bloc felt comfortable but after dropping the last move of the second climb, I struggled to stop the intrusive thoughts sneaking into my head. ‘Not good enough’ ‘I don’t want to let anyone down’ ‘I want to prove I can do this’. Finishing with only 1 top and 2 Zones meant a nervous wait to find out if I had made the cut. I scraped into finals in 6th place. Now for the fun bit.

Stood in the holding zone, I felt nervous hearing the crowd cheering, it was dark but the neon blue light on the comp wall was creeping through the tarp door. I hear my name called and run onto the mats. Our first boulder started halfway up the wall! I have a couple of goes and the thoughts are racing through my head “I can’t jump that high’ ‘I’m going to spend 4 mins not able to get off the mat in front of all my friends and family, how embarrassing!” I take a step back and realise that I had being going about it the wrong way! I run from a different angle and everything clicks! I stuck the first move and heard the crowd get excited. A voice of a little girl screaming my name stuck with me and I felt a sense of pride and excitement swell up. Despite not getting any tops, I felt like I climbed pretty consistently throughout the final and was happy getting all 4 zones. Slightly frustrating that I couldn’t secure the top I needed but at the time, that didn’t feel important. I felt like I had proven I was still at a decent level.

Massive thanks to Boulder UK for putting on an absolutely amazing event and constantly pushing to be better. Can’t wait for next year!