Summing Up 2013

The end of the year is finally closing in and with a few days off over the Christmas break, I have been spending a bit of time reflecting on what has been a truly incredible year for me as a climber, coach, now husband and enthusiast for the development of our sport. Before this year began I knew it was going to be a big one but nothing really prepared me for what would turn out to be a real roller-coaster 12 months. BEWARE THIS BLOG IS A LONG ONE.

Starting way back in January, I was appointed as the Team Manager/Coach for the new GB Junior Bouldering Team. Emotions on the matter were a mixture of pride, apprehension, excitement and undoubtedly nerves. It is truly an honour to be able to represent your country and while I don’t step out and pull on the holds, I am incredibly passionate about GB and would consider myself a bit of a patriot. My desire to push us as a competitive nation as far as I can was key to keeping my motivation high all year as we travelled Europe to 4 major European Competitions.

As this was the first year the team was formed we had very little expectation. However, if you had asked me to predict how we perform against the best in Europe I would have laughed if you had said we would go on to win Gold medals and hold an IFSC team ranking of 4th by the end of the season.

Nathan Phillips with his Gold Medal

Nathan Phillips with his Gold Medal

The truly defining performance for us came right at the end of the year. In front of a packed stadium, the team really showed Europe what we are capable of by delivering probably the best collective effort ever from GB outfit. Both on and off the wall the abilities of this set of Juniors is only just being realised and our campaign was rounded off with the icing on the cake being Team Captain Nathan Phillips winning the first ever GB European Gold medal.

Nice blog on our Laval competition from Gracie Martin here

Throughout the year our team has grown in way I could have never anticipated. Each athlete has matured both in skill and in confidence and while we are all still learning a lot, I am incredibly proud of everyone’s achievements.

Being involved with the GB Team over the past 12 months has been an incredible insight into the rapidly rising amount of talented young people within not only the UK but also throughout Europe. After all, it is within this next generation where we will really find the superstars of tomorrow.

Talent development has been a major area of focus for the BMC over the past few years with various new levels of what we call the “talent pathway” being implemented to support our young climbers. The BMC now runs a full complement of regional and national based academies designed to progress climbers towards our national teams in both lead and bouldering.

I have been involved in running these for the first time this year at both regional and national level which has been a thoroughly rewarding process. I have also been working with the BMC’s Training and Skills Officer, Jon Garside, to project manage a new coaching tool in athlete profiling. Essentially a means of benchmarking, profiling provides coaches with key performance measures against which to match athletes with the aim of highlighting key strength and improvement areas. Coupled with the launch of the new coaching awards, this is quite possibly the most exciting development in climbing coaching right now and one which I look forward to talking more about in 2014.

Project implementation planning in London with Sport England

Project implementation planning in London with Sport England

Profiling implementation considerations

Profiling implementation considerations

Towards the end of the year I have also delivered my first Mountain Training Coaching Award Scheme courses. Since becoming a training course provider in October (blog here) I have gone on to run trainings for 17 new coaches at both the Foundation Coach and Development Coach Levels. Both courses had very impressive candidate line up’s including GB international athletes, GB team coaches, personal trainers, coach managers as well as a strong cohort of extremely talented coaches from the Climbing Works in Sheffield.

This is the first centre, as far as I am aware off, to have a full staff team trained with the latest in coach education. I wish all of the crew at the Climbing Works all the best in delivering what I am sure will be incredible sessions in 2014 and passing their assessments too. Running a new course is always a nerve-wracking experience and together with co-provider Katherine Schirrmacher, we certainly learnt a lot across the two days. Blog from KS here

Foundation Coach Training at the Mini Works

Foundation Coach Training at the Mini Works

Nathan Phillips giving Tim Cunnington the beta

Nathan Phillips giving Tim Cunnington the beta

While 2013 has been more work than play, I have also managed a little “me time” on the odd occasion. In August I got married to my beautiful wife Michelle and we were lucky enough to spend a whole month in the incredible Rocklands, South Africa. A truly magical place I would recommend it to anyone looking to travel a little further afield for their bouldering trips.

A stunning location, our trip was part climbing part relaxing honeymoon and served as a very welcome break after a manic first half to the year. We climbed for 3 weeks before some chilling on the Western Cape Coast and a Safari trip near Cape Town. You can read more about our trip here.

Stunning view in SA

Stunning view in SA

I am also pleased to announce that I will be joining the Pitch Climbing team again in 2014. I have really enjoyed being part of the Pitch ethos and feel very honoured to be continuing with them. The ethos of Pitch is all about fun, exploration (whether than be literal or more philosophical) and adventure. Please check out their website here.

Sporting my new Pitch Team kit at the Boardroom

Sporting my new Pitch Team kit at the Boardroom

This year has truly been an epic one but looking back now it has also been incredible. I would like to just say a special thank you to Lucinda Whittaker and Clive Phillips from the GB Team Management plus my wife Michelle who have been so supportive over the past 12 months.

So where do we go from here…………

The GB Team set up will be back in action at the end of January and I will be uploading more information on new Coaching Training Course dates and coaching updates in the New Year. I wish you all a very lovely end to the festive season and look forward to a wicked 2014.

Tom

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