Molly Thompson-Smith hits USA ahead of new lead climbing season
By Mark Ashenden
Last Updated: 02/07/19 11:53am
The high altitude was bad enough but when her shoulder popped, Molly Thompson-Smith feared the worst.
With the the bouldering season wrapping up earlier in June, find out what happened to the 21-year-old climber from London when she visited the USA ahead of a new lead climbing campaign.
The Sky Sports Scholar reveals all as the road to the Tokyo Olympics starts to get serious....
"Three weeks in the US of A!
I've never really been at altitude before, let alone climbed or competed up high. So it made sense to travel to America a bit early to get used to it before the competition.
My partner and I spent time in the fittingly-named Boulder - home of many world class outdoor boulders and boulderers! With the Rocky Mountain National Park on its doorstep, it was like a bigger (more American) version of Sheffield, my UK training base!
The goal was to acclimatise, prepare for the last bouldering World Cup of the season, but also start getting fit for lead season. It was perfect - wake up, eat, train, eat, rest, train again, eat, sleep.
I can't explain how good it feels to get into a great training camp rhythm with no distractions - everything is about making improvements, and usually it's in a pretty nice location!
Six days into the trip the jet lag finally faded, and I had my first session where I felt like myself on the wall again. I could bash between holds, feet cutting, shoulders dipping then engaging into a strong position again.
I was so happy and it had come just in time for the competition. What didn't come in good timing for the competition was the pop I heard in my shoulder two days later on that same feel-good wall.
It was one of those 'oh no. Oh no. Ohhhhhhh nooooooo' kinda pops. The ones where you instantly know you didn't get away with that one this time.
For the next two days I couldn't lift my arm above horizontal, and it just hurt - all the time. When things like this happen, you immediately think the worst - I'll never be able to compete at the competition, my lead season is over etc.
I can’t wait to follow the journeys of my @SkyScholarships family this summer and see them all achieve awesome things!🤩💪🏽— Molly Thompson-Smith (@Mollytheclimber) June 19, 2019
Always grateful to be a part of soemthing this great❤️#summerofsport #summerishere #skyscholarships pic.twitter.com/JS8t38rqGc
But I tried my best to stay positive, rehabbing and exercising any way I could in the week-and-a-half between that session and the competition.
I made great progress in that week, but I was still in pain for the start of competition.
2019 is a pretty special year with every World Cup important parts of the Tokyo 2020 selection system, and with the potential for a decent ranking despite being injured, I made a tactical choice to compete.
I knew it wouldn't be my best performance, and it certainly felt like I hadn't climbed much previous to the competition, but I came away with a combined ranking I was happy with and that was the main thing.
The boulders were really fun, and I tried as hard as I could but at the end of the day I wasn't in the top form required to be successful at World Cup level.
It's hard not to look back and think 'why me', or think about the 'what ifs' had the injury not happened, but no one chooses when or to be injured, and part of being an athlete is dealing with these setbacks.
To move on to more positive things, the start of the Lead World Cup season gets going on July 4 and I couldn't be more excited.
I love bouldering but it's not really my favourite type of competition. However, I feel like I've been waiting a long time to prove myself on a rope in my favourite form of competition climbing.
With last year being focused on rehab and getting over my finger surgery, I've been desperate to be in it for a whole year of lead and build on my performance with every round of the season.
I've spent a bit of time in Innsbruck already, familiarising myself with the 'pumpy and physical' style of World Cup routes, and am looking forward to putting in my last efforts before it all kicks off in Switzerland.
I'd like to say a huge thanks to Sky for the constant support. Being injured is really frustrating as a full-time athlete, and it takes a weight off your shoulders knowing your sponsors are backing you through them and supporting you back to full health.