GB Junior Climbing Team members Hamish McArthur (17) and Emily Phillips (16) have returned from the 2019 World Youth Championships in Arco, Italy with a silver and bronze medal respectively. Hamish placed 2nd in the Youth A Boulder final and Emily finished 3rd in the overall Youth A rankings across Speed, Boulder and Lead.
The GB team achieved their best set of results ever in a World Youth Championship, with 4 finalists in Lead, 2 finalists in Boulder and 8 top ten finishes across Lead and Boulder in 4 out of the 6 categories (3 age groups per sex). Holly Toothill and Emily Phillips both narrowly missed out on making Boulder finals, each ranking 7th place in their respective age groups.
GB Junior Team Coach Ian Dunn commented:
'What I am so impressed with is the strength in depth that we showed in Arco, with semi-finalists in many categories and finalists in 6 it really shows that GB has a competitive group of climbers throughout the Youth ranks. I am sure that these climbers will go on to emulate the likes of Will Bosi and Molly Thompson-Smith.'
Hamish McArthur told UKC:
'Following my recent podium in the Imst European Youth Cup (UKC news), I stayed out in Austria, training at Kletterzentrum Innsbruck which is widely regarded as the best climbing facility in the world. Here I trained on world class routes, climbing with other national team climbers who were also preparing for the World Champs. As a result I became more confident and comfortable on challenging routes, managing to climb with flow even when tired.'
Hamish qualified in 6th place for the finals. Hot and humid conditions caused him to climb more tentatively to avoid a possible slip. He commented:
'After a fight in the horizontal roof l I came off with the high point. I maintained the highpoint after the next climber came off one move before I fell, and ended up in 5th place after all the finalists had climbed. This was my best Youth World Championship result to date, so whilst not completely satisfied as all my hard work hadn't been rewarded with a medal, I couldn't complain about coming 5th in such a stacked field including multiple senior World Cup finalists and even a World Cup winner.'
Just a few days later, Hamish found himself qualifying for Boulder finals in 5th place. He told UKC:
'I went into this event knowing my bouldering form had massively improved from previous seasons and I felt physically stronger than ever. However, the physical aspect is only half of it and without the right mental attitude a good performance is near to impossible. In previous World Championships I'd narrowly missed out on finals so I was hungrier than ever to progress to my second final of the competition. I made it through in 5th place and it felt like the pressure was off. Worst case scenario I've made a World Championships final and finish 6th in the world.
'I went out onto the final boulder knowing a quick top would guarantee me 2nd place. This climb suited my style and I managed to flash it, securing me a silver medal. After the initial psyche wore off, I was surprised at how calm I felt, not overly excited or energetic. I'd rehearsed this scenario in my head countless times so standing on the podium at the Youth World Championships didn't feel as foreign or overwhelming as I imagined. I'd put the work in so there was no reason why this wouldn't be the outcome. A day later I can truly appreciate the significance of this medal for me, as it is the first of many in what will hopefully be a long and successful climbing career.'
Emily Phillips was looking forward to a successful junior World Championships after making multiple Boulder semi-finals on the World Cup circuit this year, her best result being 10th place in Moscow. Following a surprise Lead result and a solid performance in Speed - Emily has previously held the British Women's Speed Record - she was in a strong position for a Combined medal before starting the Boulder rounds. Emily told UKC:
'My first World Championship medal! I'm so, so happy to have earned 3rd place in the combined event, especially after the disappointment of finishing one place out of finals in Boulder. I would have loved to fight for the Combined and Boulder titles by competing in Boulder finals but I was just short of qualifying this time. The lead event went incredibly well for me. Making finals alone was a shock for me and the team, but to then finish 4th was crazy!'
Standout performances of the event as a whole came from Italy's Laura Rogora, who won triple gold in Lead, Boulder and Combined in the Junior category. Oriane Bertone (FRA) also impressed by taking gold in Lead and Boulder in her first World Youth Championships in the Youth B category. Both Laura and Oriane are also known for their hard first ascents and repeats on rock. Athletes from less well represented countries also shone, notably Nichol Tomas, who became World Youth Champion in the Youth B male category and placed 3rd in the Combined rankings.
Age category breakdowns:
Youth B = 14/15 years
Youth A = 16/17 years
Juniors = 18/19 years
Top 10 finishes:
Emily Phillips Youth A female - 4th place
Hamish McArthur Youth A male - 5th place
Gwen Morgan Youth B female - 6th place
Toby Roberts Youth B male - 6th place
Hamish McArthur Youth A male - 2nd place
Max Milne - Junior male - 4th place
Holly Toothill - Junior female - 7th place
Emily Phillips - Youth A female - 7th place