Day 1 — We reached Tehran, Iran on the 26th of September. The city is beautiful — kind of warm in the afternoon but cooling during the nights and mornings. I regretted not bringing lip balm. My lips were so dry, especially in the morning! But there is a first for everything, so i’ll be sure to bring lip balm whenever i travel in the future.
We were pretty fatigued from the flights. The first flight was like about 7 hours and it really took alot of energy out of us, especially the young kids from Youth C. They were too stubborn to sleep in the plane , when we arrived at Iran at 1am Iran time or 6am SG time, Kai Ze, one of the Youth C Singapore representatives had knocked out while waiting for the Visa to be confirmed. HE COULDN’T EVEN WALK STRAIGHT HAHA. It was funny and cute to some extent. We went back to the hotel and we just had to knock out. The jet lag was real. Even mark and i could not handle it when we arrived at the hotel. The opening ceremony was on the day we arrived and thank God it started in the afternoon. We managed to get some recovery sleep alongside some carbs to refuel our body and be prepared for the long week ahead of us.
Day 2 — Tuesday, Mark and all the other young Youth C boys will be climbing. I only participated in bouldering and speed so i did not have to climb on that day. Mark did quite well, finishing off his lead qualifying with a double top! Impressive work bro!
Then i saw the Youth C compete too. Some fumbles here and there but i’m pretty sure they learned alot from this discipline. Oh i forgot to mention, the youth C boys participated in all three disciplines of climbing! They seemed pretty flustered during their climbs but i am sure they have a bright future ahead of them, really strong and talented young punks!
Day 3 — Wednesday, it was boulder qualifying for everyone. All the routes for my category ( Youth A) seemed quite possible and i have to say i am intrigued at the diverse style of setting. It was definitely different from most local bouldering competitions where if u just have a certain amount of strength, you’ll do just fine on the wall. But over there in Iran, i saw how even the strongest fail on flashing routes that they should be able to cruise. And to be honest i did not expect to enter the finals as i didn’t feel as prepared as i was supposed to but what made me extremely happy was that Mark and i both made it into the finals!
Day 4 — Thursday, speed qualifying and second last day of competition. I haven’t been training speed due to certain circumstances. Especially when Onsight, the gym i always train at, has no speed tiles. I’m not sandbagging here, i’m just sharing my experience throughout the preparation and during the competition.
So i was definitely nervous, as i really wanted to retain my title as Youth A speed champion. So i tried to stay as calm as possible, and went ahead with the practice rounds. So for speed climbing ( in case some of you don’t know how the game works), we would have practice rounds right before the qualification rounds. So we could get used to the speed timers and route.
During the practice rounds i clocked 8.00s flat on my first run of the competition and it felt good to have started smoothly, it was good for the mental too, some of you may not know this but speed climbing is the most pressurizing discipline of climbing ( for me at least). With the good starting rounds i managed to clock 7s (sevens, not actually seven seconds flat) My fastest during the qualifying rounds was 7.50s and that led me into the finals with 3rd place!! After the whole tiring day, i saw Yan there (he was my Outram coach, basically he led me into the climbing world, without him i am nothing) and he told me that i should relax more, although i felt quite composed already. He said i looked very rushed and still nervous. He told me to just chill and climb like how i would usually climb in trainings. “ Have some fun ERP, just like how you would always climb in Outram” — He said this and i lightened up almost immediately. He and Hazlee have inspired me in ways i never thought anyone would.
Day 5 — Friday, finals day. It was definitely no easy feat doing two finals in one day, with the bouldering finals in the morning and the speed finals at night. Both the finals were happening when the weather was the coldest. (HAIS)
I was never really a morning person, so getting up early and climbing in the morning was a real struggle but my roommate and training buddy, Mark , always manages to make sure i am wide awake. The boulder routes were fun, but i couldn’t seem to flash any boulders. I took a minimum of two attempts for all the routes. Except route 3, it was a slab, it wasn’t just any kind of normal slab where all you had to do was trust your feet. This route involved mantling and had big volumes which required some crazy flexibility. Not finishing route 3 was a big blow to me, in my mind, i thought that i had already been out of the running for the podium. I felt disappointed at that point of time. But back in the isolation i told myself: “ Just one more route, I JUST HAVE TO FINISH THIS ONE!” So with that self made psyche, i went out to climb boulder 4 and i finished it in 3 attempts and managed to get 3rd!!
A few hours later was the speed finals and since my category ( Youth A ) had the most number of competitors, we started off the finals first. My first competitor was a Kazakh and boy they all are fast, i just made sure i didn’t slip and things would go my way. So i managed to knock an Indian climber out too and i was left with the Korean. I could tell that he was fast from the qualifying rounds, i told myself the same thing over and over: “ Go fast, but don’t slip.” It wasn’t easy as i had very little training for speed and the tendency of slipping for me was pretty high (in trainings too). Winning the Korean guy was the ticket for my speed medal. It would guarantee it. The race has started and i could tell from my side view that we were head to head. A costly slip from the Korean managed to get me to the big finals. That already means that i have made it on the podium!
At this point in time there was a bittersweet feeling — as i know there is one more round and i will be able to get the gold medal if i win but i was already satisfied with the silver.
The final round was against a gigantic Iranian climber and i swear i felt like a kid beside him, although we were of the same age :(( . The emotions, the pressure and the crowd were trying to get in my head, but i managed to push it all away and focus on myself just climbing this route for the last time. The gold medal race has started and we were head to head, at the top i was in a slight lead but (guess what?) I SLIPPED. Therefore taking away the slightest possibility of me receiving the gold medal. I was still extremely happy with my performance though, didn’t expect to pull off two mental games in one day, but i did it.
The Japanese and Iranian climbers are definitely a threat to bouldering and speed respectively, but sometimes all you need is confidence. Tell yourself that fear is a choice, we choose what (and who) we fear. Last of all i would want to thank Hazlee, my coach, my mentor and my friend. He has never been anything lesser of a perfect coach. He has helped me and my training buddy, Mark with so much mental training. I still can’t thank him enough.