This article originally appeared on gymclimber.com
Erin Sterkenburg graduates high school in December, just a few months after she competes in the first ever Olympic climbing event in Tokyo. She will be the the first (and only) African woman to compete in an Olympic climbing event.
For the 18-year-old, who began climbing four years ago and has only competed in three IFSC events to date (one of which was the Olympic qualifier in Cape Town), it’s a huge leap. Gym Climber caught up with Sterkenburg to chat.
Q&A with Erin Sterkenburg
For starters, can you tell us a bit about your competitive history? In the IFSC and otherwise?
So I started climbing in 2017, when I was in grade 8. I don’t know if you guys call it that (laughs), but it’s like the first year of high school here in South Africa. At my school we have a competitive club that does climbing. So I joined that at my school and then I did the school’s “league” for climbing. That first year I went to Lead Nationals.
After that competition, I was like, ‘OK, I really like doing this,’ so I got a membership at the gym near my house and started climbing all the time. I went to Youth Worlds [Moscow] in 2018 for the first time. I was in grade 9 then. Then I went to the one in Arco the next year. So those are the only IFSC competitions besides the Africa Cup that I’ve done.