In the last weekend of March, young climbers from around the state gathered to try out for the Australian Youth Climbing Team, with the hope of eventually competing in the World Youth Championships to be held in Arco, Italy later this year.
Now in their fourth year, the youth tryouts are still relatively young themselves. As the brainchild of former national coaches Rob and Carlie LeBreton, the framework was developed as a method of enhancing the quality of future climbing athletes in the country.
Will Hammersla, head coach of the Australian Climbing Team, said the calibre of young climbers has been increasing year-on-year, with some very stiff competition turning out to Bayside Rock for the tryouts this year.
“The grade of the climbs range from about 25-28 (Australian Ewbank) and V4-V8 in the bouldering,” he said. “To qualify on climbs of this difficulty is exceptional for climbers no older than 19.”
17-year-old Campbell Harrison was one of three Victorian climbers to qualify, alongside peers Sarah McKenzie and Sienna Wong.*
“Training officially started for the tryouts in late November after a brief rest following the conclusion of last year’s competition season,” Harrison said.
For Harrison, that training involves five sessions per week in the climbing gym as well as a rigorous schedule of stretches, yoga and running on his days off.
“I try to make as much of my training climbing specific, as I feel I still have so much to learn about climbing movement.”
For this young man, climbing may well be the beginning of a lifelong career, and with organisations such as Sport Climbing Victoria now available to assist in his development, this dream is that much closer to realisation.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to include the names of the other two Victorian qualifiers, with the consent of their guardians.