From scrambling up furniture and cabinets as kids, a pair of North Delta teens are climbing their way to Italy for the IFSC Youth World Championships next month.
On the surface, Ben Newman and Brielle Zacharias might look like a couple of average 17-year-olds, but they’re doing something pretty special. Not only will they be representing their home climbing gym, Climb Base5 in Coquitlam, but more importantly they’ll be representing Canada on the world stage.
“We fall just as much as we climb,” laughed Zacharias, will be competing in Youth A female speed climbing.
For both cliff hangers this opportunity comes after plenty of hard work and constantly pushing their physical limits. As they put it, it’s all about trying to do your best regardless of the competitive outcome.
“I’m not going to Italy with the mindset that I am going to win. It’s an honour to be able to go and I just want to do my best and beat my [personal best],” Zacharias said.
Both Newman and Zacharias found climbing the same way most kids do, with a love for adventure and that first trip to the climbing wall —with maybe a few heart attacks for mom and dad along the way.
|Ben Newman trains at Climb Base5 in Coquitlam on July 15, 2019. Newman is set to compete in the men’s Youth A Boulder category at the IFSC Youth Climbing Championships in Arco, Italy Aug. 22-31, 2019. (Ryan-Alexander McLeod photo)|
For Newman, who will be competing in Youth A male bouldering, the journey started especially young.
“I’ve always been climbing things my whole life,” he said.
“Whether it was my parents finding me on top of the fridge when I was a couple years old or hanging from a window ledge, I’ve always loved climbing trees,” he said. “It just took that first time at Coastal Climbing Centre in Surrey to get me hooked.”
It started much the same for Zacharias, who competed in the world’s last year in Moscow, Russia.
“I think the first time was like most kids: you get invited to a birthday party at a climbing wall, and from there I just kept going,” she said. “I love the people I’ve had a chance to meet, the friends you make climbing. I’m just so grateful for that.”
Both Newman and Zacharias are deep in training mode with their coaches at Climb Base5 as they look to beat their personal bests — if a win comes out of it, even better. But personal development is key for the now Team Canada Youth A climbers, they said.
“We both just want to compete, have fun and try our best. We are looking forward to the opportunity,” Zacharias said.
Both Zacharias and Newman admitted winning would be the ultimate cherry on top.
|Brielle Zacharias trains at Climb Base5 in Coquitlam on July 15, 2019. Zacharias is set to compete in the women’s Youth A Speed category at the IFSC Youth Climbing Championships in Arco, Italy Aug. 22-31, 2019. (Ryan-Alexander McLeod photo)|
Either way, the IFSC Youth World Championships in Arco, Italy Aug. 22-31 are already going to be a life-changing chance to compete against the sport’s best climbers, but they’d love to do it with some familiar faces in the crowd.
“The big difference from anything we have ever done before is that Team Canada travels together, has team meals together and sticks together most of the time,” Zacharias said.
Though they’ll be spending most of their time in a team setting, both climbers said the thought of being so far away from family was a little intimidating, adding having them there would bring added peace of mind.
But as with most sports, the activity puts a financial strain on the family. The cost of the trip to Italy for each athlete (travel, lodging, food and team functions) is roughly $5,000 — and that doesn’t include bringing family along for support.
On top of the money they’ve each saved up through climbing competitions and part-time jobs, Newman and Zacharias are currently trying to crowdfund enough to not only allow them the chance to compete in Italy but also to bring their parents with them.
After all, where would any athlete be without parents to support them?
On Aug. 10, Newman’s family will be hosting a $25-a-plate Surf-and-Turf fundraiser at North Delta’s Sundowner Pub (11970 64th Ave.). The event gets underway at 7 p.m. Contact Sue at 604-596-9492 for tickets.
Newman’s crowdfunding campaign can be found at gofundme.com/f/send-ben-to-compete-for-canada-at-youth-worlds.
Zacharias’ crowdfunding campaign can be found at gofundme.com/f/send-brielle-to-youth-worlds.