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Sports Climbing Is As Close As We Can Come To Flying

Rock climbing, a sport viewed as ‘extreme’ by some, is to others a source of pleasure. Or perhaps it's merely an excuse to take risks with one's life?

As I gaze at the wall ahead, adorned with colourful, rock-like shapes, with the harness securely fastened, I feel breathless - it seems to stretch on endlessly. Swallowing the lump in my throat, my hands grow sweatier with each step. I doubt I'll ever reach the top, but then it happens. I feel proud of my body's strength and realize its untapped potential.


Few sports engage nearly all of the body's muscles, leading to frequent debates about which sport produces the finest athletes. Is it football, baseball, cross-country, or swimming?


When I tell people I go rock climbing, their reactions typically fall into one of two categories: "Wow! That's amazing!" or "But what sport do you actually play?"


Climbing is undeniably "cool" and indeed a "real sport." While you may not be as familiar with rock climbing as you are with football or soccer, it offers a unique challenge. While most team sports have fundamental skills that can be mastered, climbing has endless possibilities for improvement.


There are no limits to rock climbing; it is always evolving and changing. Some of the world's best climbers create new routes every day, often breaking the rules in the process.


In the world of gymnastics, appearance is a constant source of criticism. Are you muscular and slender enough? Do you possess enough flexibility? Are your movements flawless? But climbing is different. Teammates support and encourage each other's goals.


I won't deny that climbing can be terrifying. While some, like Alex Honnold, seem to defy death, many of us feel fear.


Falling or making a careless mistake isn't a major concern in the climbing community. Both are preferable to giving up, which is the ultimate failure for a climber. Overcoming fear and persevering are fundamental to the sport. It was with great regret that I gave up.


Rock climbing involves ascending indoor climbing walls or natural rock formations by climbing up, over, or through them. The goal is to reach the top of a formation or a predetermined path without falling. Climbing tests a climber's strength, endurance, balance, agility, and mental toughness. Specialized equipment and knowledge of climbing techniques are essential for safe climbing.


Due to the diversity of rock formations worldwide, rock climbing encompasses several sub-disciplines and styles, including sport climbing, bouldering, scrambling, and traditional climbing.


Rock climbing competitions aim to reach the farthest point on increasingly difficult routes, complete the course in the fewest attempts, or both. Indoor rock climbing is divided into three main categories: bouldering, lead climbing, and top roping, all of which I participate in.


While rock climbing is now considered a recreational activity, it has evolved from humble beginnings. Many take travel for granted today, but in Victorian times, it was a luxury reserved for the wealthy. Few had considered climbing Mount Everest or the Matterhorn, let alone witnessed their breath-taking beauty.


Being a good climber isn't about being fearless or never making mistakes. It's about continuing to climb even when you're scared and think you can't go on.


All sports have their advantages and disadvantages, but climbing has it all. According to Michael Smith, MD, climbing challenges both the mind and body, improving physical coordination and building upper body strength and stability. It requires planning and puzzle-solving skills, enhances endurance, and teaches flexibility, body control, and coordination. From my experience, the skills I've gained have not only made me a better athlete but also a better person.


Rock climbing has gained significant popularity and media attention. It was included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as part of the sports climbing event, alongside lead climbing and speed climbing.


Despite this surge in popularity, the United Kingdom still lacks a representative in climbing following Shauna Coxsey's retirement. Perhaps Britons are more risk-averse compared to other nations.


The greatest moment in my life was summoning the courage to climb that wall. I've discovered the strength of my body and mind and the lengths they'll go to achieve what I once thought impossible.


"You can't fall if you don't climb. But there's no joy in living your whole life on the ground. See you at the top."

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