22 September 2019

Shauna Coxey, “Catherine Destiville, a french free climber inspired me when I was 3 years old”

September 8, 2015
Shauna Coxey-redbull 1

Shauna Coxey is not only one of the UK’s best climbers, but she is also one of only four women in the world to climb a V14* route, she spoke to Sportsister’s Danielle Sellwood after winning the final world cup event of the season.

Shauna Coxey-redbull 2

“This season there were five World Cups and a European championships at the beginning of the season. I won the final world cup, which was great because frustratingly I had to pull out of the European champs due to an injury. I am just really pleased that I managed get back to form in time to win the last event and finish second overall. “

End of the season

“The great thing about climbing is that it’s so varied. The competitive scene is quite different to rock climbing and although it uses the same muscles and skills, the mental side is very different. Normally at the end of the season I would head off – you get to travel the world climbing which is great, but right now I have to rehab my damaged finger and put travel on hold.”

Bouldering V Climbing

“In bouldering we climb without ropes, so we don’t go really high – outdoors we carry mats with us to land on and in competition obviously the whole landing area is covered in mats.

I don’t tend to climb above 5 or 6 metres as I don’t like to take massive risks, so it’s really rare to get hurt – in fact bouldering is pretty safe generally. The sport is about strength and technique – it’s a unique and interesting sport. In many ways it’s similar to gymnastics in the movements that you are doing, but you are hanging on your fingers so finger strength is really important.

Even falling from five metres could be damaging, so you learn to fall well. I’ve been climbing from a really early age so I’ve learned to fall naturally over the years – it’s not something I’ve had to think about and I’ve never been scared.”

Inspired at 3 years old

“I don’t come from a climbing family, most people assume I do because I started so young. I saw Catherine Destiville, a French climbing legend, on the TV when I was three years old and was obsessed with it from then on. I asked my dad if I could try it and about a year later we found a climbing centre that I could start at.

That’s why I try to do as much media as possible – because I know that I was inspired by seeing a woman climbing on the TV, so I hope maybe I can have the same affect on someone else.”

Giving something back

“I really wanted to give something back and share everything I’ve learned, plus do something positive for the sport and help with it’s development. So I have a company that organizes women’s climbing events that I set up with a friend – it really helps to keep my brain active and one of the things we organise is The Women’s Climbing Symposium, this year will be our fifth!

Our mission statement is to connect, inspire and develop women’s climbing, so we get coaches and speakers from all different areas of the sport and just get as much information out there as possible.“

Gender equality

“Growing up in climbing, gender has never been an issue for me, but then I started to organise women’s climbing classes. It made me realise that many women were facing similar barriers to each other – things that I had never even thought about, I was really quite ignorant to these issues but I realised I could do something to help.

A lot of women were struggling to overcome their fears, or they were having issues or concerns about when they had their periods, or even things like relationship issues within climbing. So although I’ve not had these problems I recognised that they are very real for many women, so at the Symposium we just take inspiration from each other and it’s just a really positive atmosphere”

Good timing

“Climbing is such a young sport really and it’s changing all the time. When I was younger if I had said that I was going to be a pro-climber then people would have laughed – there were very few professional climbers then. But I had this vision of being like the athletes and full time sportspeople that I had grown up watching on TV, I wanted to try and do that with climbing.

It’s just lucky for me that climbing has grown as I have grown-up in it, so that’s made it really possible. Big brands like adidas and Red Bull are now getting involved and it’s made a massive difference to the sport – Red Bull are very passionate about it and to be honest there’s no way I could do what I do without their support.”

Climbers Against Cancer

“I am proud to be a trustee of a great climbing charity called Climbers Against Cancer – it was founded by John Ellison, a climber who was diagnosed with advanced cancer back in 2012. We raise funds and donate to cancer projects worldwide – it really demonstrates what a supportive and tight knit community climbing is”

*In the sport of bouldering, problems are assigned technical grades V0 to V16 depending on degree of difficulty.

Danielle Sellwood, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Shauna Coxey is supported by Red Bull
Images courtesy of Red Bull

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