Today was a somewhat historic day for Maltese climbing as upcoming local youth climber Zack Xuereb boarded a flight to Edinburgh accompanied by MCC coach and former US National Ladies Sport Climbing Champion Miura Hawkins.
Through support provided by both the MCC and Sport Malta, Zack will be participating in the Scottish Youth Climbing Championships (SYCC) 2019.
This is a first, as to my knowledge, no other Maltese climber has ever participated in a climbing competition overseas!
While Zack is somewhat new to climbing, he has incredibly already ticked off his first two 8a routes, amazing progress in little over a year of climbing (see article).
Faced with such talent the MCC decided to support Zack’s continued development and explore the possibility of his participation on the international sport climbing competition circuit. Contact was made with our friends at Climb Scotland who had climbed in Malta with the MCC in the past regarding Zack’s participation. The SYCC seemed like a good place to start gaining some experience . The competition is taking place at the top climbing facility in Europe, the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA), more commonly known as RATHO which is quite simply an indoor climbing paradise!
One mustn’t underestimate the challenge Zack is facing, bearing in mind that the competitors probably climb indoors with a coach a few times a week. Zack has never climbed a sport route on an indoor wall. The learning curve will be steep but we hope that he will get some good practise in under the guidance of Miura this evening and tomorrow, before the actual competition on Saturday.
The strategic objectives of Zack’s participation were outlined in our application for funding to Sport Malta:
- To provide experience of climbing on an international competition standard indoor climbing wall (not available in Malta);
- To benchmark the athlete’s capabilities and potential against competitors of a similar age who compete on the international circuit;
- To provide an opportunity for coaching on an international competitions standard indoor climbing wall which is specifically relevant to all future participation in climbing competitions;
- To expose the athlete to a competitive climbing environment including rules and regulations, competitive stress etc.;
- To develop international contacts for the club which may provide future opportunities for competitions, exchanges, workshops etc.
- To determine whether it makes sense for the club to continue to devote resources towards Maltese participation in international climbing competitions at this time.
- To determine the possibility of participating at the 2024 Olympics when climbing will once again be included following the introduction of climbing as an Olympic sport in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.