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The Women's Sports Alliance

PRESENTS...

Shauna Coxsey – Podiums, Parenthood and Progress

“Getting to the top takes perseverance, but it also takes patience and an understanding that you can't do it alone,” history-making climbing Shauna Coxsey tells the WSA.


“You do need help and you’ll definitely go a lot further if you find a good team.”


Image Credit: Shaunacoxey / Insta


As an athlete Shauna Coxsey broke down barriers and stereotypes to redefine what it meant to be a British climber.


She achieved two landmark Overall Bouldering World Cup titles, two World Championship bronze medals and went on to become the nation’s first-ever Olympian in the sport.


Shauna retired from competition shortly after the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021 before embarking on another “major challenge” – motherhood!


“I absolutely love being a mum,” she tells the Women's Sports Alliance (WSA).


“I can't imagine life without her now and just being absorbed in her world and seeing the world through her eyes gives you such a fresh perspective.”


The lessons she learned during her ‘previous life’ as an elite athlete are proving to be pivotal to this next stage with daughter Frankie.


“When it comes to time-management and energy management, they're skills that I've definitely taken into parenthood,” she reveals.


“Like I mentioned though, the biggest thing I learned as an athlete was too not try and do it all yourself and ask for help when you need it and that’s something I’m fully embracing in parenthood as well.


“I feel like the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is incredibly appropriate and I'm lucky to have such great support around me with Frankie and she's definitely a lucky little lady.”



Social Pressures During Pregnancy


Shauna posted pictures on social media of her life throughout her pregnancy, including her exercise regime which included what came most naturally to her – climbing.


She was however forced to defend herself after receiving some negative comments on social media.


“Everyone assesses risk differently and I think people perceive me climbing as risky, but I wouldn’t put my baby in danger and I’m actually climbing well within my comfort zone,” she told BBC Radio 5 Live after climbing while 39 weeks pregnant.


She hopes she helped set an example for others.


“It never crossed my mind to stop climbing unless it felt like I wanted or needed to and for sure I think staying fit active and healthy is going to be a massive benefit physically and mentally both during and after pregnancy,” she tells the WSA.


“Being in the public eye and people judging you on social media, or in day-to-day life, that's normal, but it seems like as soon as you get pregnant, it only kind of heightens the kind of judgment that you face.


“Ultimately, it's about women making choices and people respecting the choices that women make about their own bodies.”


Image Credit: Shaunacoxey / Insta


Becoming an Olympian? It feels like a Dream


Shauna admits it feels “surreal” to reflect on her achievements in the sport which came against a backdrop of several career-threatening injuries and the Covid-19 pandemic which delayed the Olympics in Japan by 12 months.


“It was such an honour and a privilege to be part of that world, to have the success that I did to go to the Games when honestly there were so many times where I didn't think I'd make it,” she says.


“It almost feels like a dream, but I’m really grateful for the journey.”


This year’s World Championships have seen Shauna return to a competition venue where Olympic places are at stake, in the role as a commentator, for the first time since retiring from the sport.


“Of course, it's bittersweet because I loved my time competing, but it was so incredibly hard and I don't miss the drama of it all!


“It’s so cool to see the athletes pushing themselves and doing that with my daughter here, able to see it herself, it’s magical.”


Image Credit: Shaunacoxey / Insta


Pushing Boundaries Ahead of Paris 2024


Shauna is impressed by what she has witnessed as the sport heads into a second Games and a year out from Paris 2024 the progress is clear.


“Despite the fact we had Covid at the first Olympics (and no fans in venues) it was received incredibly well but I think for Paris it’s going to be even more incredible because France is such a strong climbing nation,” reveals the two-time World medallists.


“There’s a lot of change in the sport and there are another set of medals being awarded (for speed climbers, with bouldering and lead climbing combined into a separate category).


“We as a sport learned a lot from Tokyo and I think it’s in a great position to grow and develop as a sport, so it’s only going to get better from here!”



Women's Climbing on the Rise


While Shauna’s competitive days may be behind her, she will continue to climb recreationally and is keen to emphasise that the transformations she has witnessed in the sport during the last couple of decades mean it’s “more inclusive” than ever.


“It's a great sport for everybody, which makes it a great sport for women,” she tells the WSA.


“When I first started climbing, it felt like there was a huge disparity between the number of men and women climbing and now it's not rare that I walk into a climbing gym and see more women in there than men.


“At many events in the World Cup calendar and the World Championships we're seeing the same number of men and women competing.


“It's a sport that fosters inclusivity because whether you’re a beginner or more advanced there are ways to enjoy the wall, boulders and different routes.


Shauna concludes; “it's just such a fun sport which challenges both body as well as mind and, you know, women can climb just as hard as men.”

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