A 13-YEAR-OLD girl has scrambled to the top by winning a national climbing competition – despite being one of the youngest climbers in her category.
Gracie Martin, from Alfreton, stormed to victory in the Youth Climbing Series National Final, held in Wolverhampton over the weekend of June 25 and 26.
Gracie, who has been climbing for only two and a half years, said: “My aim was to finish in the top ten in the national field. I knew competition was going to be tough so to win was awesome!
“There were about 30 competitors in my category. I was the second youngest and was up against people who were nearly 17.”
She tackled three boulder problems and three routes on a practice wall, reaching the highest point of the toughest challenge.
Dedicated Gracie trains four times a week in Nottingham and Sheffield and is part of the Nottingham Junior Climbing team which meets every Saturday. And when she isn’t hanging from a practice wall hand-hold she is improving her upper-body strength at home by practising pull-ups on a finger board in the kitchen.
Mum Sara, 41, said: “I am just very proud. She is extremely dedicated and works very hard. Teenagers get a lot of bad press but she is extremely focused. To have that pay off in such a short time is incredible.
“There are no climbers in the family so she has shown us the way. Everybody now climbs a little bit – there’s a lot of rope-holding!”
Gracie was spotted by coaches at Nottingham Climbing Centre and invited to join the Nottingham Junior Climbing Team. She is now working with some of the best international climbers in her quest to be selected for European competitions.
She said: “I would like a career in climbing but there’s not much money in the sport. But you never know. It could potentially become an Olympic sport. We will have to see what happens in 2016. I have got to get a lot better and then I can start coaching people.”
“It’s quite a male dominated sport – but there are now more women climbers than ever. Women tend to climb more technically. I have a lot of friends who climb. Everyone is very friendly. There are quite a lot of young climbers but lots of them don’t want to train as much.”
Most of Gracie’s climbing has been on indoor practice walls but she has been lucky enough to climb on the crag when she visited Fountainbleau, in France. She added: “It’s a lot more fun on the crag!”