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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

China World Championships

Day 1+2 (June 28th-29th)

World Championships were quite different this year than they have been in the past. This was the first year that they were held outside of Europe. This year they were held in Qinghai, China. This is more of an adventure than a blog post, why don’t you come along for the ride. I left Toulouse on June 28th at 15:00 on a flight to Paris, my flight from Paris left at around 20:00 and after a 5 hour layover in Beijing, I had arrived in Qinghai a whole day later at about 21:00. I had been travelling for about 30 hours but I felt pretty good. I was a little skeptical about the travel arrangments from the airport but when I saw that the whole Spanish team was on the same flight, I was relieved. When we got there, they were waiting with a big yellow sign that said 10th Climbing World Championships. After the hour long bus ride, we started checking into our hotel. By 22:30 I had gotton to my room which I was sharing with Daniel Woods who had gotton there the day before. When I walked around the room, it seemed pretty normal, there were 3 individual beds, (one for my father who was coming) a TV, a Balcony and even little plasic sandals to wear about the room. It wasn’t the cleanest room but I was getting the room covered by the Pan American Council. I was pretty happy until I saw the bathroom. I’ve seen some pretty bad bathrooms in my travels but this one definately topped it. This bathroom had no real toilet, just a hole in the floor with two places to squat down on top of it. I’ve used squatting toilets and usually it’s not bad for a day or so but for a whole week! On top of that, the shower was right above the (toilet) and it used the hole for the toilet to drain into. So sometimes when you’re having a shower, the smell of the toilet wafts up… Not cool.

Day 3 (June 30th)

The first day of the competition started at 8am. Where we were staying was about 45 minutes by bus, which we had to make twice a day. I woke up at 6:20 to shower, eat breakfast and catch the bus. The showers were terrible at best… they just drizzled water, the only good thing that it was indeed hot water. On the other hand, the competitions venue was incredible. I didn’t get to look at it fully until after qualifyers but they had a huge boulder wall mounted on a stage so it was easier to see. Just to the left, they had a giant speed wall that could fit 4 standard routes. To finish it off, to the left of that, they a very impressive lead wall with at 20 volumes on it. I got to isolation at 7:45 and looked at the running orders. I forget what time I was supposed to go out but qualifyers went pretty well. It turns out that they had a temporary isolation just for the first day because our qualifyers were on the real isolation wall. I flashed the first 3 problems and I was really psyched. The 4th problem really threw me off; I couldn’t touch the second move. I finished my 5 minutes after trying the first move 7 times. I took a couple deep breaths, took my rest and did the 5th problem second go. In total for qualifyers I had 4 tops in 5 tries. After everyone had gone, I was sitting in 11th. Daniel finished just in front of me with 4 tops in 4 tries in 10th.

Day 4 (July 1st)

The second day of the competition was another rest day for a lot of the competitors. For me, it was not. Since I was registered in the overall ranking, I had to at least compete once in the 10m speed. The one thing that they changed this year is that they made the overall rankings based on the 10m-speed route and not the 15m. As you may or may not know, they know have a stardard speed route. At every world cup, it’ll be the same route with the same hand and foot holds. I had to do a semi warm-up and do the route once. I did the 10m-speed route in 8.5 seconds, which put me in 43rd. Not my best result in Speed climbing but it was my first trying trying the standard route and to succeed in speed, you HAVE to train the route. By the end of the day, the fastest time up the 10m route was 4.22 seconds. At the end of the day, I got the startlist for lead climbing and went back to the hotel.

Day 5 (July 2nd)

This day was dedicated to lead qualifyers. Since it was flash format, they had the routes up since the first day. On the wall, they had all 4 routes up at the same time and they planned to run them all simultaneously. In the men, there were about 85 competitors and for the women, about 65. I was 30th on the first route and 72nd on the second. For the demo, instead of actually climbing the routes, they had recorded the climbers a few days ago and they replayed them all on TV’s. It was a bit strange to watch a forerunner on TV because it wasn’t just beside the wall so you couldn’t look back and forth. Since I wasn’t one of the firsts, it didn’t matter because I’d probably see the route done at least a few times before I had to cilmb. Qualifyers took a huge amount of time. I think I climbed my first route after almost 3 hours of competition and I didn’t climb my second until after 6 hours of waiting. I ended up topping out both my routes but I don’t think I would’ve done my second one if it weren’t flash. Just before my second route, something happened that I was super pissed about. I knew Jorg was just starting to climb, and I knew that I was 3 climbers after him so I was probably going to be climbing in about 20 minutes. I was just getting my stuff ready when I hear over the loud speaker, Sean McColl, last call. When I heard this, I though maybe Jorg slipped and the two people after him had gotton injured or were choosing not to climb so I ran over pretty scared that I was going to miss my turn. When I got there, I saw that Jorg was still climbing and the two after him were just chilling. I turned around and almost lost it on the guy that had done it. He was chuckling and telling someone else that that was the fastest way to get a competitor. I told him in the nicest voice I could muster that it was completely unnaceptable to say last call unless I’m the next person in line and I’m about to miss my turn. I quickly thought about other things and got in the mind set for my second qualifyer. In my opinion, the flash works really well because climbers aren’t stuck in isolation for 7 hours but there are a lot of other competitors that dislike the format saying that it’s unfair to the competitors that have to climb the routes first. I agree with their point of view but since the startlist is random I still agree with the flash format. This year, all the world cups were given a choice of flash or onsight qualifyers. Next year, they will re-evaluate and force one or the other. Since there was a really awkward move at the top of both routes, there were a lot of strong climbers that fell on one or the other. Along with me, there were about 9 others that topped both routes and there were about 10 that had fallen at the crux move on the top of one of the routes. With 26 going to semis, all the favourites made it through. Another thing that I liked about the routes is that they went straight up. The routes were max 40 moves, which meant they were going to be hard, not long. Since I spend most of the year bouldering, I look forward to walls like this. I know that since there will never be a move on a route thats harder than in bouldering, it’ll just be the endurance that will make me fall. On short routes like this, I sprint where I’m comfortable and I should be able to do pretty well.

Day 6 (July 3rd)

This day was the ‘rest’ day in the program. I think it’s the first World Championships where they dedicated a whole day to rest but for someone like me who made semis in both categories, this rest day was much needed. By now in the competition, I was already so happy. Two years ago at World Championships in Aviles, I didn’t make semis in either. I came really close in bouldering and just blew the sequence on the last boulder. It turned out that the stupid tries I spent on the last boulder cost me semi finals. In lead, I slipped off in the roof on my first qualifyer and topped my second route. My position on the first route was so bad that I ended up in the 40’s. I think that the only thing that happened on this day was the qualification for the 15m speed climbing for men or something like that. Since I didn’t have to go to the competition, I went to a local shopping centre to look around. Also, this was the day I started to get a bit sick. Since the beginning of the competition, there had been numerous people that had been getting sick. Many people thought that it was the food and others thought it was the water. All the athletes were staying at the same hotel. It was in fact a National Olympic Training Base. All the athletes got meal tickets for the same restaurant in the base. We were supposed to eat there in the morning, they would bring food for us in the day, and we were supposed to eat dinner there at night. I think it might have been how there were preparing because health standards in China I’m sure are different that in other parts of the world. By the end of the competition there were 70 athletes out of 200 that had fallen sick. To me, this is very unnaceptable. You can’t offer occomodation at a hotel where they’re making almost half of their athletes sick. After this day, we started eating rarely at the restaurant, only going there in the morning for coffee. Some people in the IFSC started getting mad about the competitors complaining but I think that everyone should know. Alex Johnson from the American team posted a picture of our bathroom on our facebook. It just showed that the shower was just above the toilet, which was just a hole. Within a day, someone from the IFSC had contacted USA Climbing who contacted Alex’s mom who took the picture down. They said something along the lines of being a discrace to the federation in China. I think thats just BS and now we are determined to tell everyone. If everyone got sick in the hotel, people deserve to know. If the bathroom is disguesting and shitty, then people should know that too. Yes, on the other hand, the competiton venue is amazing but you can’t just show the best parts of the comp and ignore the failures. Thats like have an Open House and only showing 3 of the 7 rooms because the other 4 are broken and dirty. That aside, it was time to get psyched for semi finals in bouldering tommorrow. I’ve decided to cut this blog post into two different parts because it’s already ridiculously long and there’s another 2000 words already written. I’ll have part 2 of the post up shortly!

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Comments (4)

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    sam hu


    Sean – great writing – look forward to reading the rest


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    I couldn’t believe it when I saw Alex’s pictures of the bathroom. Culturally different and unsanitary are 2 different things. It’s disappointing that they are trying to keep people from talking about it.


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    Fight those Commies Sean!! Poop with your shower is just ridiculous


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