Boulderfest 2017 Reflections — To be a champion, one must think like a champion

I boarded the flight to Brisbane with much anticipation. New city, new climbing gyms, new holds, new routes, new competition, new competitors, new weather. It was on average 21 degrees. I almost forgot how it felt like to wear shorts out! (It’s on average 10 degrees in Melbourne! Brr..) Touched down, dropped my things off at my accommodation, took a tour around the University of Queensland, had lunch and off to climbing!

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The gym I visited on Friday was Urban Climb Newstead. Immediately having too much fun, I forgot to take pictures of the gym. But here’s snapshots of Ryan and I climbing! Haha. Oh and, with the huge change in weather, my hands were sweating profusely! I was beginning to worry I did not bring enough of my favourite Tokyo Powder Industries chalk from Onsight!

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The gym was sparse, with only 2-3 routes per wall, competition-styled. Walls of different angles ranging from slabs to a 30 degrees overhang. There were also singular walls that consist of varying angles. Perfect for a pre-comp flash practice. Definitely not a gym to train at regularly as there would not be enough routes for you to work on. The routes were colour-coded, with a separate colour (orange) for dynamic/ coordination routes.

I loved that the routes were very body-positioning and movement-based! Went climbing telling myself to just get used to climbing on volumes again but definitely got carried away and couldn’t control myself – the climbs were too fun! Tried almost every route there was until my fingers were so raw, but there was no regret! Spammed my Giddy balm from Onsight Climbing Gym religiously on Saturday and my skin grew back in time! Yay!!



After climbing, I went to Eat Street on Northshore. Guess how I got there! – A ferry! Ferries are part of the public transport in Brisbane and they cost just about the same as bus and train rides! I think that’s pretty unique!


The ship glided through the waters effortlessly. Arms propped onto the rails of the ship’s bow, cold wind brushing against my face, through my hair. The parting waters with a calming rhythm, a beautiful night skyline to gaze upon. I could not resist closing my eyes to savour this moment.

I stepped ashore and walked to Eat Street – a former container wharf featuring stalls with international street eats, beer and live performances! Let me tell you – it is the one MUST-GO place in Brisbane.


There were different themed sections so you can go for whatever feel you want!IMG_4791IMG_4799

Cotton candy made on light sticks! You should see the end-product!


Live performances included mash-ups and break dances! IMG_4750

There was simply too many food choices, and all of them looked A M A Z I N G. I had a tough time choosing what to eat and thankful it was not one I regret!IMG_4745IMG_4736IMG_4744

On Saturday, I visited the West End morning market, which was huge with lots of cheap groceries and yummy brunch options! Had rosti with Guac, this delicious donuts, and bought some tomatoes ($1.50!! they cost $3.50 in Melbourne!!) and some berries ($3.50 each!)!!

Then I made my way down to the competition venue – Urban Climb Milton – as Ryan Gaskon suggested, so that we could have a good look at the problems first. (I will explain why below!) Then, I decided to have an early night to get some much needed rest for my competition day.

Competition Day

I took part in Open A, which is the toughest category of the Opens.

Qualification Round

They call it the Pumpfest format.


In the end, there were about 70 (?) problems or so and they ranged up to 80+ points. The problems used for the qualifications of the youth categories on Saturday and for Open Qualifications on Sunday were the same. There was also one extra point awarded for flashing each route. Taking only the top 8 boulders would mean that the flash points would be crucial, and crucial it was. Going down on Saturday saved me precious time during the actual round as I have reconnoitered the problems. By the end of Saturday, I figured out roughly how many points I needed and was more or less set on the problems I should be finishing for my qualifiers. The average points was about 65 and to be honest, I started doubting myself as the problems worth that much did not look easy at all.

On Sunday, 2 hours to climb felt like such a privilege compared to Singapore’s 40 minutes even though there were more problems to be completed and longer queues. Besides obtaining flash points, queuing took up much of the time, so it was important to make your climbs count. Here’s a few things, good and bad.

The good:

  1. I went in with a hopeful heart, and fought my best. I had a clear state of mind while trying the toughest routes. “Come on, Deryl. I know this is tough, but you need it.” Pushing on even though I was on the verge of falling.
  2. Surprising myself on mantle routes. Mantle routes are usually the bane of my existence, but I actually managed to press on these 2 small pinches! How cool is that! #AchievementUnlocked
  3. Strategising. There was only one screen counting down the time, and another telling you your live total score, but not one for what routes you have completed and how many points they were worth. Thus, I had a good strategy of timing on my phone, and noting down the climbs I have done and the points they were worth. This way, I could review the top 8 climbs I had, then push myself to finish the harder climbs I need to bump my score and position up. I started with medium difficulty climbs, then the hard ones, then went back to bumping my medium-scores up. This worked really well and I was thankful for that. At the end of the session, I managed to do all the routes I believed was in my capability. Despite doubting that that was enough for finals, I was satisfied that I did my best.
  4. Not getting stuck on problems. I made that mistake once, in Boulderactive 2016 and it was not pleasant. I knew I could do that route, but I simply could not do it on that day. I wasted precious time on that problem, did not want to try the others and almost did not make it to semi-finals. This time, I could make myself move on and finish the other routes first.

The bad

  1. Doubting myself. There were 3 sessions of qualifiers in total. I was in the 2nd session and I could see the results of the first session. That, along with the fact that I knew there were many more stronger climbers in the 3rd session, made me doubt myself. Looking at their scores, calculating the average points needed, and looking at the climbs I needed to complete, I kind of lost it. I started climbing with a hopeful heart, but as time passed and looking at the climbs I could not do, I doubted myself more and more.
  2. Losing my mental over mistakes. I lost 2 flash points for dabbing on other holds. One of them was especially frustrating as the other holds were in the way and I was not awarded the flash for simply brushing against it. The others say that he is a strict route judge. Sure, I understand, and it is fair as he was calling others down for brushing against the hold as well. But when he awarded the top to someone else when he obviously swung off the top hold in a split second, I lost it. It was 30 minutes before the round was over and I knew I had to get more points. Spending 20 minutes to get 2 turns on the route, I had a little rage moment. And I apologise for that, if I affected anybody I was complaining to. I should have kept my cool and move on from there, spending my time on thinking what other routes I could do after that one.

Overall, I would say the Pumpfest was a good experience and one that I would not mind having as a qualifiers.

After my round, I was sitting in 3rd place but I had to wait for the third session to end before knowing my final placing.


I decided to have lunch with my friends at the Milton Market first… JUST LOOK AT THAT BACON!!!! AND GUAC!!!!!


Heart stopping moment when I came back and there was still 30 minutes for the 3rd round and I was already bumped down to 5th place.


Stared at the screen for a good 10 minutes, attempted to look away only to come back and see myself in 6th place for the last 5 minutes!!!!!!! Felt like I died and came back to life hahahah. (Top 6 proceed to finals!)


My old friend and fellow Singaporean, Humphrey, was sitting on the edge too and made it to Open B finals in 8th place!


Went to chill and caught the Open B finals, where Humphrey competed in! He fought hard and I’m so proud of him!

Open Finals

Whilst warming up in isolation, I could already tell that most of the other girls are physically stronger and wayyy taller than me. One of them is 183cm tall :”) However, I still thought I had a chance to podium as I had faith in my route-reading and volume use.

During the observation, the first and second routes looked puzzling to me and we (the girls and I) felt that the third and fourth were more possible to top. Who would have thought it was actually the other way around.

The Open A finals was held in a World cup format, and us girls would share how we did on the previous round when we come back from climbing. As the rounds went by, some girls went way further or topped the routes and I didn’t. I felt my mental game slip past me. On the first route, I tried to be a good competitor whilst the rest crimped the edges of the volumes. Moral of the story, and note to self, make full use of what you get. Despite this, I told myself to keep it together as I believed I could top route 3 and 4.

Route 1. I realised it was much easier to balance by flushing my feet flat against the volumes! With my trusty Tenaya Tariffas from Onsight of course! *winkwink* Hahaha.

Route 2. So left shouldery!! Proud of how far my shoulder has come! And my heel hooks too!

Route 3. Took ages to move off the start as the volumes were wayyy more slippery than I thought! Scraped my cheeks against the wall a few times too! :”) #slabproblems

Route 4. Simply did not have enough power for this one. All of us read it as a jump at first, but the shorter of us ended up doing this while the taller of us could handle the jump. This goes to show that everybody has a different beta!

I know this reflection is a mess. And a mess my mental state was. One moment I was hopeful, another I felt I had already lost. Throughout the whole finals, I was trying to figure out the optimal mental state for open finals. I was still thinking about how I should be thinking. When everything ended, my friends told me I was sitting in 3rd. place for a while. And I thought, “wow, shit”.

In the end, I placed 6th with 2 bonuses. I hit my goal of making finals as mentioned in the previous post. I should be happy to be able to make finals as some of Australia’s best climbers and international climbers competed as well. But this just leaves me hungry for more.

Days of reflection. And this is what I have figured.


To be a champion, one must think like a champion.


Ever heard of the self-fulfilling prophecy? It is the prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behaviour. So when you think like a champion, you will work your ass off and have the mental state of a champion. Ultimately, you will become a champion. Of course, there is a minimum requirement of climbing ability – which I have yet to hit – before your mental state becomes the limiting factor. Till then, I intend to work my ass off.

How? – I thought of how I could train smart. 3 ways I have decided to try is, cross training, movement training and move-specific training. We’ll see how this goes! And I’ll let you guys know of course. 😉

I’ll end this off with a note to myself:

5 things I need to improve on:

  1. Mental State (most important)
  2. Diet (I weighed myself for the first time since I came to Australia. And I died. Hahaha here’s to losing my natural weight vest!!)
  3. Finger strength
  4. Sleep (sleep is recovery. Recovery is training too!)
  5. Train smart


Amazing People I met

Also really happy to have met fellow Singaporeans Sabrina and Ridhwan, and old friends Humphrey and Irham (oh them SPRC days!!). Thank you Ryan Gaskon and John Levingston for coming down with me from Melbourne! Thank you all for your endless cheers, I really could hear you guys from the amazing crowd!


Stoked to have competed alongside these strong and amazing girls, Anna Davey and Amy Dunlop! Hopefully I will see you girls at the New South Wales state titles in Sydney!


Also, thank you Genevieve for being so gracious to have me at your place! We really need a picture together……. hahaha. Oh and thank you Nadhirah for your delicious bakes that I terribly miss right now, and CaiLing for always being there to open the door for me! ❤️

That’s it folks! Stay psyched!

Featured photo by Climb Media.



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