I've been climbing for so long. So long, that I have trouble counting quick enough to answer people who ask so. I've finally done my math. It's been 7 years and 5 months since I've started this masochistic passion. Because really, our bodies aren't made for climbing. But we do it because we love it anyways.
How it all started.
When I was a kid, I was that adventurous/ dare-devil little girl who wished she could ride the rollercoasters she was too short to. My family would go for obstacle courses for a weekend outing. So when I could choose my secondary school, I chose one with a desirable Co-curricular Activity (CCA). I was going to have to spend four years on it, and I was determined to get the most out of it. Within the list were rock climbing, archery, fencing, bowling and golf (I played golf for 6 years through primary school and still love it till date!). After a tedious application, Xinmin Secondary School was the chosen one! I barely made it with a PSLE score of 238 (the cut off then was 242), but I thankfully did. Because rock climbing changed my life!! 🙌🏻
How was climbing like when I first started?
I was weak. Af. All bones and skin, my only advantage was that I was light. I had the will to fight, but lacked physically.
How did I get stronger then?
XINMIN ROCK CLIMBING (XRC) TEAM PHYSICAL TRAINING (PT) . DAMNNNNN. Hardest PT of my life. I swear, up till today, with increased physical abilities, if you ask me to do one of those sessions, I WILL DIE. The PT given ARE KILLER WORKOUTS. But I owe my current grit and physical strength to them. The PT was so hard on me that I wanted to quit. I almost quit climbing for good in secondary 3. Thankfully, Mr. Gabriel Tay persuaded me otherwise.
I had a rewarding 4 years in XRC where I honed my leadership qualities as captain and learnt the true value of perseverance. And made amazing friends for life, of course! 🙂 I would love to write about my experience in XRC some other time!
It was my during my second year of climbing, at Boulderactive 2011 that I made my first finals in the U17 category.
Here's a puny Deryl, (shot by Arvin Tang)
And yes, I had to wear my spectacles to read my routes in finals, then pass them to a very amused (till-date) route judge (Suzanna) before climbing because it affected my estimation of distance. (Shot by Arvin Tang)
My idols then were Zhang BinBin, Vanessa Teng, Amelia, Iris Lee and Hasvinjit. I trained hard in hope to be as strong as, or even stronger, than these individuals. Believe it or not, I never won an U17 medal. 🙃 These 5 girls I've mentioned were all one year older than me and had an additional year in secondary school (sec 5) while I had till Sec 4. No matter how hard I trained, I could not beat these girls who had another year of experience. The closest I got, was a constant 4th place. Anyone feel me?! Up till today, I still look up to some of them for climbing.
Moving from the Novice to Open category.
XRC had this policy of sending climbers only when they are ready to bring back the Gold. They only send us one by one and we need to put in a special request to participate in any other category other than U17. I finally got my turn at Onsight Bouldering Championships (OBC) 2012.
Yay, out of Novice!
Placed first and got out of Intermediate in the very next competition, Pumpfest 2012. Look at the prizes man! I couldn't even get home on my own that night!
(There was a very cool route that ended facing the crowd but I have no evidence of it because we didn't use to take videos of our climbs ☹️) but yay! Opens, finally! Yay! Or no-yay!
Opens. It's not just one category IMO. To me, there's 6 stages in opens.
1. Getting completely wrecked by your idols. Some people call Opens a black hole for a reason.
2. Standing in the middle, at least not in the last place. Almost getting semi-finals, but not just yet.
3. Barely making semi-finals.
4. Stuck in 7th-12th place. The strong-but-not-strong-enough phase.
5. Making finals! Yes! You feel like you're finally closer to your dreams of winning opens.
6. Actually winning opens!
Make no mistake. Progressing from 1 to 6 is some HARD WORK. Hard work, patience and discipline. Blood, sweat and tears. Think flappers and frustrations. I took 4 years in opens just to make it to the end of stage 5.
Sadly, I dislocated my shoulder last year (2016) in July so my progress was stumped. I'll be writing on this injury and bouncing back from it in another post, so keep a look out!
So yeah! This is a timeline of how my climbing has been so far and how I got started. I have so many things to write about, just on climbing — friends made, places travelled, naturals, gyms, competitions, injuries, gear, mental progress, coaching, etc. And I'm so excited to share these (and occasionally other things besides climbing) with you! 🙆🏻