The cream of Ireland’s young climbers will make their way to the Foyle Arena on Saturday March 25when Derry City and Strabane District Council host the third and final event in the Mountaineering Ireland Youth Climbing Series.
The prestigious tournament is aimed at the most experienced underage climbers in Ireland, offering them the chance to compete against each other in different venues with the winners going forward to the UK and Ireland finals in Edinburgh.
Three local climbers represented the Foyle Arena in the first two stages of the series in the ‘Awesome Walls’ centres in Dublin and Cork and the North West entry is set to rise further when the tournament’s final placings are decided on their doorstep later this month.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock, welcomed the series coming to the City for the first time and expressed her hope that it will lead to further high profile climbing events being hosted in the future.
“This event is a great opportunity for us to showcase the Foyle Arena as a tournament venue and also for the public to come along and watch a high level of competition,” she said.
“I have been fortunate enough to experience first-hand the facilities at the centre which are genuinely world class and include the only speed wall on the island of Ireland.
“I have no doubt that this event will help put us firmly on the wall climbing map and make us a permanent fixture on the sport’s calendar.”
Climbing will be hosted at the Olympics for the first time in Tokyo in 2020 where it will be a combined event made up of three separate disciplines, speed, bouldering and lead climbing.
Climbing Instructor at the Foyle Arena, Rodney Moore, expects the profile and interest in the sport to rise significantly in the coming years and believes the local facility is well placed to capitalise.
“The Olympics will be the best exposure wall climbing has ever had and hopefully interest and participation numbers will grow from that,” he said.
“We are the only facility in Ireland who can cater for all three Olympic disciplines which puts our young climbers in a great position and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be aiming for Tokyo in three years time.
“We are very fortunate to have this wall in our area, Lucy Mitchell from Belfast is ranked second in the UK and number 1 in Ireland in indoor lead climbing and she regularly travels down to use it.
Yann Genoux, a route setter for the climbing World Cup, has been here too and says it’s as good as anything he’s set on.”
The emphasis for youngsters who choose to start climbing at the Foyle Arena is firmly on participation but, for those who choose to take the sport more seriously and compete, their coach has been delighted with their progress in a relatively short period.
“It’s a high pressure environment where you are performing in front of a crowd and you only have one attempt at a climb so as well as the physical side of the sport there is a big mental aspect to competing at tournament level and taking your chance,” noted Rodney.
“Our youngsters are often competing against kids in this series who are competition veterans and have been climbing all their lives.
“The pressure hinders some climbers’ performance but our youngsters have thrived on it. Dillon McLaughlin came back from Dublin feeling ten feet tall when he realised he could handle the pressure and compete at this level.
“Dillon, Oliver Crouch and Adam Tinney have all placed well in the opening rounds and are doing the North West proud.
“Most of the tournaments are in Dublin and Cork so it’s nice for them to get the chance to compete on home territory and hopefully as many people as possible will come out and support them.”
Registration for the Mountaineering Ireland Climbing Series at the Foyle Arena on March 25th is now open on the website www.mountaineering.ie and the closing date for entries is Wednesday 22nd March at 8pm.
Anyone interested in enrolling in NICAS or trying out the climbing wall at the Foyle Arena can contact the centre directly on 028 71 376555 to arrange a session.