“The first hurdle was how would climbing even be possible with one leg”

Hannah Baldwin

I‘m 22 years old and my schooling was locally at Ivybridge Community College. I’ve always been interested in sport and outdoor activities, I also play wheelchair badminton and have represented England at a national level. I like to travel the world and do things most 22 year old’slike. I competed at my first ever paraclimbing competition in December 2015 and won my category, since then I’ve been offered a place on the development squad of the GB Paraclimbing team for the 2016 season with a view to competing internationally.

I was first introduced to able bodied climbing aged 10 at my schools climbing wall during a school holidays activity. My mum tells the story of how it was the only activity I ever left asking if I could do this for a living. Following illness I had a 10 year gap and was reintroduced by a friend who had attended the sportivate program, funded by Active Devon at high sports plymouth. She knew I was in to sports and asked if I wanted to go along with her, I took part in the next sportivate program and have been paraclimbing ever since. I like that when you’re climbing no one cares about your ability or disability, they are all there helping to support everyone achieve their personal goals.

When I’m climbing there’s a sense of normalcy. I have been paraclimbing for 2 years and climb at High Sports Plymouth. What I most enjoy about climbing is that most adaptive sports that involve wheelchair users require us to be in our chairs. Climbing is far from that. Being at the climbing wall, people see me as a person and not just somebody in a wheelchair and they don’t treat me any differently. I’m seen as equal and hang out with like minded, psyched people and it gives me a sense of freedom I don’t get doing any other sports.

The first hurdle was how would climbing even be possible with one leg, now I’ve trained hard and got a lot stronger I want to move on to harder routes, so it’s about working out how to complete a route with 3 limbs rather than the 4 limbs the route has been set for.

Unfortunately paraclimbing isn’t currently a sport that’s part of the Paralympics. It was great to meet the competitors at the Devon Ability Games and supporting them in their personal goals in climbing.