Climbing is going to be one of the new sports at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo – and it is a sport gaining a firm toehold in Scottish schools.
This session, around 250 youngsters from all over the country participated in the Scottish Schools’ Championships, with 60 taking part in the finals at Glasgow Climbing Centre in November.
Running throughout the season is a Scottish Youth Series – round one has already taken place and round two is this Saturday.
The north section takes place at Inverness with the south section in Glasgow, and the four age-group categories run from eight to 17. The top half dozen or so from each section qualify for the finals at Dundee Vertical World on 25 March.
At the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena in Ratho in April, a team of 30 age-groupers will represent Scotland against Wales, Ireland and nine Scottish regions.
“Climbing has been a strong sport in Scotland for around 20 years,” said Kevin Howett, Climbing Scotland’s sport development officer.
“We’ve been going into schools for around the last three years. Walls are going up – Alford Primary and Perth Grammar already have them – and we are trying to get clubs set up in as many schools as possible.”
Robert Mackenzie, who won the Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture at the weekend’s Fort William Mountain Festival, is the West regional development officer and Paul Calton is based in the east.
“I try to encourage youngsters through schools and clubs,” said Mackenzie, formerly head coach of the Glasgow Climbing Centre Youth Team. “Everyone loves to climb. The fact it is becoming an Olympic sport will really help raise the profile and attract more support.”
Howett agrees. “The Olympic inclusion is a great help,” he said. “We are now getting more support from Sportscotland.”