Stories of Ambitions
Going from strength
12 months on from the JLL training camp and mock competition, we caught up with Karin Kojima, our athlete from Gifu Prefecture, Japan, to check in on her progress and how she’s adapted to a challenging start to the year.
Tell us about the experience of the camp – what did you learn?
It was an amazing experience to attend the camp. The time spent with the coaches and other climbers helped me spot weaknesses in my climbing I hadn’t been able to before, and I’ve been able to work on these since.
What is your weakness and how to overcome it?
It helped me identify how much improving my core strength would improve my climbing overall. My weakness is my core. I feel that my body easily shakes when I hold on to a lunge especially. My coach taught me some good exercises that have been helping me build this, and this is helping me perform stronger, more stable climbs. I also try and run 5km a day to build my overall physical strength….except on rainy days!
And have these changes helped you improve performances?
With these changes and regular training at my local climbing wall I’ve been able to achieve a new PB for speed climbing of 12.70s. For bouldering, I can now climb more stably at harder grades with fewer attempts than before. A lot of this has come from watching videos of my technique back and seeing where I can improve movements or make them faster. I can then repeatedly practice the movements until they come naturally.
What about performances in competitions?
I won Combined Juniors Female at the Asian Combined Youth Championship last year. It was a great experience for me since winning in international competition is very difficult. However, I know I still have a long way to go, including gaining experience through the World Cups and increasing my mental strength in order to succeed in the World Cup, which is my dream.
The thing that I’ve always liked about winning is the mentality. Sometimes I think about the route too much before climbing and get impatient and often lose because I cannot do it my own way. However, when I tend to think about other things before climbing, I can relax and just do my climbing, I perform better.
Covid-19 has disrupted so much, including the world of climbing. How has the situation impacted you?
For competitions, this year was supposed to be my final year of youth, but due to the cancellations, last year will have been my final entries in youth.
How do you feel about this transition?
I have already been competing in some senior level competitions since I was a freshman in high school but have struggled to achieve success at this level. It’s a very different feeling to competing at youth level though. In the seniors, the players around me have a lot of aura, and the atmosphere in the isolation room is tingling.
At youth I think I was putting pressure and the weight of expectation on myself to win, but in senior level I feel like more of a challenger. The atmosphere at senior competitions is tense and this can make me nervous, but the type of pressure I feel has always been different.
The JLL camp inspired me in working towards these ambitions. I’m excited to see what the future holds.
How have your training regime and goals been affected with all that’s happening now?
My focus right now is staying fit and training as much as I can within the restrictions of the current situation. When there are no competitions, I practice a number of difficult routes, but I haven’t been able to visit the wall. I have been training and trying to build my strength at home. One goal I have for this year is to hang from an 8mm wide plate, this has meant I’ve focused my training on extending how long I can hang in the crimp grip position.
Looking to the future, have your ambitions changed?
I don’t have a clear path set right now. I know there is lots I want to achieve. I definitely want to compete and succeed in World Cup competitions when this is possible again. And further into the future, participating in the Olympics is definitely a dream of mine. The JLL camp inspired me in working towards these ambitions. I’m excited to see what the future holds.
See more of Karin’s story of ambition in our short film here and stay up to date with all of our climbers’ progress as we follow their journeys throughout the year.