UC Students Win National Speed Climbing Championships

Alongside their degrees, UC students Sarah Tetzlaff and Tom Waldin are ascending the ranks of speed climbing, winning the 2021 Aotearoa championships.

“I’m very proud – and mildly surprised – to have won the male speed championship,” Waldin says. “Speed climbing requires a specific wall and the only one in the country is in Mt Maunganui. This makes speed climbing a very difficult discipline to train for, living in Christchurch, so I’m very pleased I managed to take the win.”

Waldin, currently in his fourth year of Civil Engineering, and Tetzlaff, working towards a Bachelor of Environment Science, both juggle their studies and training for this competitive sport from their homes in Ōtautahi.

“Through balancing sport and studies, I have developed the time management skills and techniques required to succeed in both,” Waldin says.

For Tetzlaff, access to digital learning materials through AKO|LEARN have made her success possible.

“I’ll train in the morning or afternoon around my uni schedule and watch lectures online when it suits me better. I’m also not opposed to being a bit of a weekend warrior with my study if I get behind during the week.”

These two national champions are hopeful to attend the Open World Cup later in the year, depending on travel restrictions.

“If it is possible to travel overseas in October, I would love to compete in the Open Speed and Bouldering World Cups in China and Korea – but I’m not holding my breath,” Tetzlaff says.

With the competition season over until September, Tetzlaff and Waldin are looking forward to getting stuck into their studies and heading outdoors for rock climbing.

“I’m hoping to really push my climbing level at the Castle Hill Basin, Milford Sound, Mount Owen and many other amazing places,” Tetzlaff says.

These quick-footed students also have ambitions of increasing their speed records.

Waldin won his final with a time of 10.11 seconds – just .6 of a second in front of his opponent.

“That time is quite far off my personal best, but I was very happy considering I haven’t had access to a speed wall in the last six months,” he explains.

Tetzlaff only has herself to beat, having made a new NZL female speed record with her 11.14 second climb.

With competitions wrapped up until spring, these two speedy students will hit the books and get out and about in the south island’s beautiful rock landscapes for outdoor climbing.

“The NZL competition season will kick off again in spring,” Tetzlaff says, “so I have a bit of time now to relax, rehydrate – and then hit it hard!”

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