From May 11-13, the largest annual Australian climbing event took place. 260 athletes gathered at Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym, Villawood to compete in the 2018 Australian Clif Bar Youth Championships. This is the second year where Sport Climbing Australia (SCA) has separated the youth national event from the adult national event and run all three disciplines in one weekend. The SCA is continuously improving how this busy weekend operates and by all accounts from athletes, team officials and the countless volunteers, the weekend ran smoothly with no major complaints about the planning and execution of the event.
The setting teams had a titanic task prepping the walls for the weekend. There were two teams; a bouldering team headed up by an injured Tommy Krauss but ably helped from a very experienced team and a lead team headed up by Carlie LeBreton who has set countless times for youth competitors in Australia. We also had an international guest setter, Remy from France, who helped the lead team at the event ahead of running some setting workshops the following week.
The setting teams at the youth national championships were at their best and set up some of the best performances of the weekend, with no major setting mistakes despite the difficult task of splitting diverse fields and sometimes with terrain limitations. This shows how much the setting quality and expertise is improving in Australia. With now frequent international setting guests and familiar comments from them about the quality of setting – it’s clear that our setters are doing a better job than ever preparing our athletes for overseas competitions.
The athletic performance was incredible to watch too. Each event gave us multiple impressive performances but there were a couple of standout moments. In the lead competition the highlight was Oceana Mackenzie topping the Youth A female final. A powerful bottom and middle section spat her fellow competitors off the route. Oceana breezed past the middle crux and even though she had already secured the lead title went on to top the route having to fight for the last three moves. This was only one of her impressive performances, Oceana swept all three events for the Youth A female category and didn’t fall once the whole weekend.
For the bouldering the best show was put on by the Junior male category. Three competitors entered finals only separated by attempts from qualifications and so the stage was set for a great competition between Jesse Rufini from Queensland, Yossi Sundakov-Krumins from New South Wales and Ned Middlehurst from Victoria. After the first two problems, Yossi and Ned pulled out ahead with Ned ahead by one attempt. Yossi kept up the pressure on Ned topping all four finals problems but Ned kept his composure and flashed all four finals problems giving him a perfect score in finals. A close fought lead competition between Ned and Yossi which forced countback to the first qualifier meant that Ned had secured the combined victory too. Ned completed the sweep of all three events with a speed victory – great preparation for the Youth Olympics in Argentina later this year.
The speed competition was the biggest speed climbing event in Australian history with great participation from the youth athletes eager for a shot at the combined title. The standout performance came from Tasmanian Riley Thurstans who posted the competition best time of 10.56 seconds in his first qualifying run. This is particularly notable since Riley does not have access to a standard speed route in Tasmania and although the speed wall was not exactly at international standards it was very close.
Congratulations to all competitors during the event, all who attended and watched from afar were able to witness some personal best performances and incredible efforts. As always, a massive thank you to all the volunteers over the course of the event. Some volunteers put in 8 hour shifts to make it possible. If you are a parent or frequently attend these events with a team, please consider getting trained at your next state event and put your hand up to help out at the next national event – this will lighten the load for everyone
-Phil Goebel, President, Sport Climbing Victoria.
2018 Clif Bar Youth Championship Results: