Since Molly Thompson-Smith stormed onto the climbing scene years ago she dominated the British competition climbing circuit , at both junior and senior level. Today at the age of 17, she is as the ranked number one climber in the world in her age category. We managed to get a few moments in her hectic schedule to talk training, comps and exploring the outdoors…
You come from a pretty sport loving family – in what ways was that helpful in terms of discovering and developing your love for climbing when you first started out?
It was really helpful that my parents were so sporty – they always encouraged me to try new sports and find one which I really liked. I’d join in with them when they played netball or football and we were always given the opportunity to do countless amounts of taster sessions, weekend clubs or holiday camps. I did or tried almost any sport you can imagine when I was younger so when I came across climbing I was sure that it was really what I wanted to do. Once I started climbing I slowly stopped doing other sports to try and get much better.
Your boulder comp results are staggering – especially for someone so young. Give us some insight into what your training regime is like and how you’ve got so good so quickly…
Well my main focus is lead climbing so my training is geared towards that – although I compete in bouldering it’s more for fun. I’ll boulder once or twice a week with my coach for power and strength – we’ll either just have a hard boulder session trying all the hard blocs at my local wall or we’ll do power endurance where I’ll repeat a bloc as many times as I can in 4 minutes. However, the other times I’m at the wall I’ll be on a rope doing fitness – lapping routes from 2-4 times depending on how hard the routes are. I think I’ve always been quite a strong climber so I need to work on more competition tricks – bouldering competitions especially are becoming more exciting for crowds and including run and jumps or dynos more frequently so I try to work on them for a little bit each boulder session. Another weakness of mine is balance slab problems so I spend a little time (probably not enough!) working on those from time to time. It’s important to work your weaknesses as they’ll never become strengths if you don’t, and you’ll always struggle on them.
What kind of climbing do you like doing the most? And where?
I’ve had limited outdoor experience but I’m starting to branch out as I think its important for me to be able to understand and be able to enjoy climbing in its purest form. I have been to a few places in Yorkshire like Kilnsey and I really enjoyed it there. But indoors wise I’ve been to many more places, my favourite being Imst in Austria for it’s amazing wall and the incredible atmosphere when a competition is held there.
How do you combat nerves when competing?
I try not to dwell on uncontrollable factors and try to focus on what I can do. I also try not to compare myself with other competitors too much – theres nothing I can do about their performance so try to focus my attention on mine! Also, the rest of my team mates are great support at competitions so I always have people to turn to if I need a quick pep talk or calming down! But I’d say I’m pretty good with nerves so just enjoy the competitions, especially the junior ones as I know I don’t have many left!
You can follow Molly here.