Local rock climber TJ Foley has spent the past few weeks in Moscow, Russia, competing at an international level at the IFSC Climbing Youth World Championships. This is Foley’s first time leaving Canada, and what an experience it has been for the young climber.
On Sunday, August 12, 2018 Foley climbed in the Bouldering discipline, up against two groups of 35 climbers that climbed side by side in the Youth B category. The top ten from each group went on to the semi-finals. Foley placed 47 out of 70 competitors.
Foley’s sister, Tia Yakimovitch says that Foley had the unique opportunity to climb next to Canada’s other Youth B bouldering competitor, Ethan.
“This made the experience an extra special one, running out to their routes side by side and chatting about their routes in the five minutes between climbs,” said Yakimovitch via email from Russia. “TJ topped his very first route at his first Worlds and flashed the bonus on the second climb, he was not able to top routes two, three or four, but TJ put his heart into each other climbs and can walk away very proud of how he performed here in Moscow as a first year Youth B competitor. He really did look strong and graceful on the wall.”
As for Foley, this is just the beginning.
“There is still a lot of work to be done,” said the climber. “I still have a lot of training to do and can become much stronger.”
Foley’s favourite part, he says, has been getting to create friendships with people from all across the world and being able to make stronger connections with his teammates from across Canada.
“When they compete in Canada they do form friendships, but they are always competitors,” said Yakimovitch. “Here in Moscow, they are teammates and are exploring the world of climbing together. When they aren’t competing they are watching climbing at a world level, cheering on their Canadian teammates and heading to climbing gyms around the city to get in even more [training].”
She adds that Foley had the opportunity to climb with the South African team the first night in Moscow, and has made “really cool” connections with them, trading old or extra uniforms and giving them some maple syrup that they brought from Canada.
Foley says his least favourite part has been battling with a cold.
“I asked him if that was it, if there was anything about the competition he didn’t enjoy, and he said ‘nah, the competition is sick’,” said Yakimovitch, who adds that the experience has been a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“TJ and I were able to tour [Moscow] before the competition started and we’ve been blown away by the city and its architecture,” Yakimovitch said. “The language barrier is greater than most of the Canadian climbers anticipated but has been a good learning experience. TJ is very proud to be representing Canada (and Kimberley) here and can’t thank the community enough for coming together and pumping him up for this event.”