Conquering fear to reach new heights

Interview with PGL Sponsored Athlete and climber, Emily Phillips

How and when did you get into climbing?

When I was 15 my family and I went on a camping holiday to the isle of Wight. While we were there we went to a garlic festival. Amongst the garlic and beer tents there was a mobile climbing wall. I had never been climbing before so my dad and I had a go. It felt good to get to the top of my first ever climb.

A couple of months later we were driving through Cardiff and my dad spotted a new climbing centre opening called Boulders. We went in and I was only 6 - it seemed massive! There was a kid's club and because I'd enjoyed climbing on the Isle of Wight so much, my dad booked me into a session. I really enjoyed it so I carried on with kid's club, continuing to improve until dad asked if I could start NICAS (National Indoor Climbing Award Schemes). The instructor was unsure because I was so young but agreed to give me a trial.

What do you love about climbing?

Climbing is a unique sport. There are so many ways of completing a climb and it's always interesting to see how others do it compared to you. But the best part is that it doesn't matter if you're small or tall because you can find a different way of climbing the same route. So even if you are climbing with a taller person, it doesn't mean that you are at a disadvantage.

What or who inspires you to keep competing and improving?

My coach Simon and my family inspire me to keep improving because they have always encouraged me and supported me throughout my whole climbing life.

Have there been any challenges that you have had to overcome along the way?

Yes! When I started lead climbing, I was very scared of heights. At one point, I thought I would never get over it. But with advice from my coach and many months practice, I got through it and now I've managed to get a place on the GB team!

Why is training so important?

I spend about 2 hours a day, 6 days a week training. If I didn't, then I would never improve and it wouldn't be as much fun. Most of my time outside school is spent training so without it, I would quickly become bored and un-fit. Training improves my physical strength and endurance as well as my technique and coordination, which are all important when climbing.

If you could climb anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I would love to go to Spain and climb on the cliff faces there as it offers some of the best outdoor climbing there is.

How do you manage to balance school work with training and competing?

Most of the time, I manage to keep up with homework during the week alongside climbing. However, towards the end of the year in exam season, it tends to get a bit harder and then I have to spend my school lunch time and break time revising so I don't fall behind.

What do you have planned for the future?

I am going to carry on training until I become world champion and try to reach my full potential. But I also just want to have fun and go climbing with my friends.

By Emily Phillips