Sport Climber
Photo Credit: Lauren Mukheibir

A young Johannesburg marine biologist and sport climber is on the cusp of living the ultimate high–the Paris 2024 Olympic Games!

 

Global (15 May 2024) — Lauren Mukheibir (22), the female African Sport Climbing champion, graduated cum-laude with a degree in Marine Biology from Edith Cowan University in Perth at the end of last year – a significant milestone in any student’s life. But the cherry on the top is yet to come for this young sport climber when she steps out as part of the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in July, where she and three other climbers are representing the continent!

Lauren, who is currently training in Perth, will be back in South Africa on the 4th of June. She will train here for 2 weeks before competing in the Innsbruck World Cup at the end of June.

Then it’s off to France from JHB on the 23rd of July for a training camp in Troyes preparing for the Olympic Games. Once the other qualifiers are over, there will be a group of 12 top-ranked sport climbers from across the world heading to Paris.

“I will then move into the Olympic Village on the 31st of July and compete on the 6th and 8th of August,” says Lauren who qualified by winning a combined competition in Pretoria in December, which involved climbers competing in the Boulder and Lead categories.

Lauren won’t be competing in the Speed category. Her disciplines in the sport are Boulder and Lead. Lead involves a 16m high wall and a route worth 100 points, and the Boulder category has four boulders, each worth 25 points. Once both rounds are completed, the scores are combined to create a score out of 200 to determine your placement.

“I train about 20 hours a week – 10 hours of climbing and 10 hours of strength training; it’s what my body can handle. Climbing at such a high level requires so much confidence and bravery.

“I get quite scared with big jumps or boulders that require quite a few fast moves. This confidence takes time, as it is something you practice throughout training sessions. Once you start you just build on it,” Lauren says.

While a love for climbing started very early, at the age of 9, when she watched a friend compete, deciding to study Marine Biology was thanks to the scuba bug that bit in 2020 when Lauren took part in a volunteer programme in the Seychelles.

The all-body workout rock climbing provides has built her up physically, mentally and emotionally over the years, and her SA (Devin Sender of INSIDEedge) and Australian (Alan Pryce) coaches have played a massive role in making  Lauren the competitive climber she is today.

“It’s going to be incredible to represent my country and the continent in Paris. Some competitors in my sport are in their 30’s now, so I believe I have another Olympics in me too. Regardless, I will keep climbing until the day I can’t get out of bed anymore.

“I have no expectations. Obviously, it’s a huge moment but I want to absorb everything and enjoy it,” the sport climber shares.

Her SA coach and a heap of friends and family are headed to Paris too, to cheer Mukheibir on.  Whatever the outcome, she hopes her Olympic qualification inspires a new generation of climbers.

“The growth of the SA climbing community has a really long way to go, but it’s making baby steps and that’s really important,” Lauren adds.

“I would love to see more awareness of the sport for kids – in schools, gyms, workshops.  At the moment there are limited facilities for climbing in SA and few coaches too. This is why I hope Team SA can show youngsters interested in the sport that there really are no limits to what heights they can scale in future.

In offering advice to other climbers, Lauren says:

“For those already climbing, keep at it! Climbing has many highs to enjoy, including the friendships you make along the way and the self-discoveries too. Consistency is key.”

As for her, Lauren shares an open mind and an excited heart:

“I don’t know what will happen after the Olympics. Of course I will never stop climbing but I have to get my career underway now too, and that’s very exciting.”

While Lauren doesn’t necessarily need sponsorships to compete, these are invaluable, especially for replacing shoes and other necessary equipment. She currently has a BackaBuddy account to help her raise money to cover the expenses so she can continue doing what keeps her sane – sports climbing! Funds raised will support her pre-Olympic training, which includes the help of a team of specialists, like coaches, physiotherapists, biokinetics, nutritionists and sports psychologists.

All in all, she is an inspiring young person who has already made South Africa enormously proud and ready to root from our own mountain tops!


Sources: Supplied—Jacqui Moloi 
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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