Today ISN’T International Women’s Day (that’s on the 8th March) and that is EXACTLY why i’m publishing this piece today: because there is absolutely no reason we shouldn’t be celebrating strong, successful women every single day of the year and not storing their achievements up to post them once a year.
This year’s IWD did get me thinking though. A post on the BBC Sport page with a column by netball player Serena Guthrie told of the importance of “[influencing] young girls” and while i totally get that, this 30-something male found it equally inspiring. Sadly, the section labelled International Women’s Day disappeared the very next day and finding this piece suddenly became that little bit trickier.
It wasn’t as hard as finding the piece that really grabbed my attention though: The women who have had an epic 12 months. That one required a Google search and while that’s not exactly difficult, it surprised me quite how quickly this inspirational article had fallen from the home page. Likewise the appalling treatment of the Colombian Women’s football team seems old news already.
All that aside, it did get me wondering. From a personal point of view, my Instagram feed is filled with female climbers and that’s not because they’re female, it’s because they’re inspirational people. This is especially telling in an activity such as climbing, where the opponent is arbitrary: climber against the climb. In fact, my whole life is influenced by inspirational women, just as much as men; to me what you do is what counts, not the contents of your underwear.
However, this is related to International Women’s Day and i would like to concentrate on females for this piece. There will be a follow on piece looking at inspirational men, purely for balance and very personal to me but here, i’m looking at the women who help to drive me to get out there and achieve my best.
In British climbing at the moment, i couldn’t really start with anyone else. Shauna needs no introduction, as a World Cup winner, among many other achievements.
For me, though, it’s not her climbing that i’m impressed with. Well, it is, obviously, but it’s how brilliant she is as a role model for our sport. Shauna is often the face of rock climbing on BBC Sport and has been filmed for at least two #workoutwednesday.
We couldn’t ask for anyone better to fly the flag for rock climbing.
I met Mina in Manchester in 2016 and she came across as friendly, approachable and very knowledgeable. In short, she was really nice! Since then, Mina took a really nasty fall at Malham Cove and has since been talking lots about her recovery and motivation to get back on the project.
Mina is very open about the dilemma she’s facing with coming back to a project that almost broke her, physically and mentally. Her mental strength, in both dealing with her issues and being so up front about it, reminds me that no matter how strong we are, climbing is always a challenge.
I actually met Caroline before i knew anything about her, at a house party in Fontainebleau of all places, and she’s another person on this list who is really nice. I found out afterwards she’s a total badass climber too.
The grades she climbs are unreal, consistently ticking off 8a, i love seeing the pictures of Caroline working her latest projects and reminding me how much i want to return to the forest.
I can’t picture Sasha without smiling. She’s appeared in so many films over the years that i feel i know her a bit already – although obviously i don’t as i’ve never met her.
Her climbing achievements speak for themselves, largely because of the media attention she receives. She even made it onto the Sports Illustrated Fittest 50 athletes 2019; and that’s fit in athletic terms and not sexual terms. You should see some of the other athletes on that page!
However there is one post on Instagram she made that really grabbed my attention, as she tempered the furore about the film Free Solo by highlighting the effect focusing on soloing could have on those taking their first steps into climbing. For someone right at the top of her field, one of the best in the world, to realise the effect this film might have on participation is humble and admirable beyond words.
I first came across Zofia through an article on her blog about Flow state in climbing and soon started searching through other articles of hers. Turns out she’s really cool, living the dream and gets out climbing SO much, it seems unreal.
It seems i’m not the only one who’s noticed her, as the BMC and Alpkit shared her video with Alice Hafer, Stuck about them attempting a crack climb in the Peak.
It’s as a writer that Zofia really impresses me. She’s more balanced and informed than most of the mainstream newspapers i read and always a treat when something new appears. My only criticism of Zoff is that she doesn’t write enough.
I’m going to be completely honest here and say that what first put me on to Nina was the fact i saw her on a magazine cover and thought she was stunning. However, the more i looked at her profile and read articles about her, the more i realised how empowered she is.
Nina isn’t known for bouldering as much but she is one hell of a climber and what she gets up to is enough to motivate any climber. The film Tzugle is well worth a watch, as she is awesome in part of a team having a blast in Argentina.