SportsAid is aiming to shine a spotlight on the next generation of household names across Great Britain….your local heroes! Our blog series, entitled ‘Inside My World’, will look to offer you an insight into the lives of the country’s most talented young athletes while also offering them the platform to express themselves to a wider audience.
This time....it's Megan Wyatt, 16, from Olney in Buckinghamshire. She is a climber, currently supported by the Elton John Sports Fund through SportsAid, who favours the bouldering discipline. Megan is ranked number one in the country at age-group level. She is studying for her A-Levels and has spent lockdown balancing climbing, conditioning and working in her local garden centre.
Here, Megan takes you into her world as she blogs about her initial discovery of climbing, the sport’s addition to the Tokyo Olympic Games, and following in the footsteps of trailblazer Shauna Coxsey.
“I first got into climbing seven years ago just as an after-school activity with my friends, and figured out I was quite good at it. I entered a competition to get into my regional academy, and I’ve just not looked back since! I like climbing so much because it’s such an inclusive sport - I can go to training and either climb with people my age, or people who are 50-years-old.
“I'd definitely recommend it to the younger generation - it is competitive but everyone who climbs is so friendly, because it’s really more of a competition between you and the wall. Climbing appealed to me at the start - I’ve always been quite sporty but I never really got into the other sports that I tried, so it was about trying something new, while it was also a really fun thing to do.
“I’ve been on the Great Britain team for three years now, while I’ve been fortunate enough to compete all over Europe - travelling to France, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands - an aspect of the sport I really enjoy. I’m definitely looking forward to travelling more in the future - it’s made me a lot more independent as I often just go with my team-mates and without my parents.
“Climbing is a challenge with yourself and there are so many different types of movements….it’s just really fun to try and get up a wall! Bouldering is my main form of climbing but I’m also ranked first for leading as well, so I’d say one of my main strengths is that I’m quite a versatile climber and I’ve got several strings to my bow.
“I don’t think I was naturally that talented at climbing - I had some ability but I definitely had to work hard at the same time. I remember when climbing got declared as a new Olympic sport and just finding it so exciting. I never thought it would be an Olympic sport. It’s not known as a main sport, so it was definitely very exciting for me and it’s an exciting time to be a climber.
“I guess it sort of revolutionised my ambitions in many ways, and it changed my dream to now becoming ‘I want to be in the Olympics’. I definitely aspire to follow in the footsteps of Shauna Coxsey and she gives me a lot of inspiration - I’ve been lucky enough to go and watch her in competitions and meet her in training, and just seeing how much she’s pushing the sport in the UK is definitely an inspiration. I’ve met her a couple of times - she’s so down to earth and she told me that I have to keep my training fun, otherwise it’s so much harder to stick to it if it’s not enjoyable.
“At the start of lockdown I didn’t really have much equipment to train, so it was hard as all my friends from the sport had their own climbing walls. But then my dad built this wall about six weeks into lockdown, which has made a huge difference as it means I can get the movements in and pretty much go on it every single day.
“My parents have been so supportive throughout my career - they’ve always been up for taking me to training and competitions, especially when I train in Reading which is a two-hour round trip for me from where I live. My parents would take me after school or early in the morning at about 5am, so having their support has definitely helped and they massively facilitate all my training needs.
“Climbing has a real community feel - I’ve got friends all over the country, which is good for me to go and see them in terms of getting around and travelling. I try to go to the gym every day normally, so there’s a lot of gym and conditioning work around climbing as well.
“My younger sister, Emily, is really sporty as well, and when she wants to do something she’ll just put her mind to it and get it done, and she’s been really successful and won European medals in street dance as well. She always just has such a positive outlook on everything and she always supports me, so she makes me want to do better.
“It’s been hard to balance my social life alongside my climbing, but I do like going out with friends - they think it’s quite cool they’ve got a friend who is such a high-level climber! None of my friends are particularly sporty, so they do think it’s really cool that I climb and they’re really supportive as well. They’ve come and watched me at competitions, while some of them have even tried it as well!
“My plans for next year are probably European and World Championships, but in the long-term I’m targeting the 2024 Olympics in Paris so I’m definitely looking forward to that. Tokyo is probably a bit too soon, so I’m really putting all my thoughts and efforts towards Paris, while I also want to podium in World Championships in the future as well.”
Please keep an eye on SportsAid's website and social media channels - Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube - for more exclusive content from our currently supported athletes, their parents and guardians, and the charity's extensive alumni.