In this interview, Philippe Ribière, a professional climber who was born with the Rubinstein-Taybi syndome, talks about the evolution of paraclimbing and his own part of this as a competition climber.
A long time ago you started to promote a different category of climbers like yourself. Can you remind me of your goals at the time and talk a little about how they came true?
Yes, 12 years ago I started to promote by myself a new face in the world of climbing. I knew the sport of climbing wished to be in the Olympic games at some point in the future. Simply I knew if we wanted to be selected in the short list of the IOC, we, like every sport, would need a paralympic category. Nothing wrong!
In 2002, in the collaboration with the IFSC I made some demonstrations at the World Championships and the European Championships. At this time for only a few people and for the French Handicap Federation, but nobody really believed in this project.
But you know I was so young and innocent that I crossed my fingers and hoped that one day the Paraclimbing would be in the circuit of the World Cup.
Then in 2010 we had the first official Paraclimbing competition in Japan. The following year, we got this World Paraclimbing Championships in Arco, where I got my bronze medal. Yes I was also proud to be a part somehow of this new category.
Last year, in Paris, the Paraclimbers competed alongside everyone else in the World Championships. This is really rare to see it. What did this mean for you?
I thought... and I said to my French federation, that it looked like an attempt to hide the real motivations from the IFSC to do it. I mean the only reason they wanted us there was to get on the shortlist for the Olympics...
But you know I learned a lot by experiences that I won't lose my time to think on the wrong way. I just want to remember the World Champion title of Nicolas Moineau and the bronze medal of Mathieu Mesnard, After the rest it is a politic game that I won't participate in even if I have my opinions.
So, what were the consequences of this for you?
On my side I was really depressed and I stopped climbing for one month because I didn't climb well and didn't reach the finals. I was disappointed with myself because when watching myself on video, it looked like I was on a holiday or something... I seriously wanted to stop climbing after 19 years...
To understand, I came back from Rocklands without any real motivation to get a world title, but when I watched the finals of my category I was really angry with myself because I wanted people to know that I am a part of this new category and also I wanted to climb in this final which did not look very hard. I wanted to show my climbing, but sport is sport and I had to accept it.
On the sport subject, in the French Paraclimbing Team, we were proud of Nicolas and Mathieu. Obviously we were wishing more climbers to be on the French team but then again not really... Now after a year and a half we have to be satisfied with what we have. We got one French National Competition, the European Championship, Arco Rock Master and we have the London World Cup and Laval. A lot of things have changed and I could not imagine better.
How do you train for competitions?
In 2012, training was a bit impossible because I was traveling a lot - and I still am...
But I have the chance to spend a long time in Slovenia and I have a personal coach who gives me some exercises. Before this I had a lot of conversations with my French friends about quitting climbing. Then thankfully during the winter spending time outside, I found a solution to get warm: climbing.
After I don't know what happened but I fell in love with climbing again. So to make competitions I fixed my ego and sensitive problems to turn them into an advantage. For instance I know that my handicap is really different to all my partners' in the same category as me. So at this point I have just to train by specific exercises. I worked a lot on the psychologic and philosophic reasons why I want compete.
Alright, Philippe, thank you very much and good luck with everything!Philippe Ribière is sponsored by: Petzl, The North Face, La Sportiva, Chimpanzee, Climb On and Lapis.
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