Rockstar Interview: Mina Leslie-Wujastyk

womens+rock+climbing+clothingwomens+rock+climbing+clothing© Jon Butters

Mina is out there crushing with the best of them as part of the British Bouldering Team.  She’s dedicated her life to her love of the sport and still at 25, she’s managed to rack up 17 years of climbing experience!   She recently climbed a classic sport route called Mecca, the mid life crisis at Ravens Tor in the UK.  Get this girls… the route is graded at F8b+.  Whoooosh!  That makes Mina the first ever British female climber to climb at that grade in Britain, and the second British female to climb that grade anywhere in the world.  At this point she could hang up her boots and be more than satisfied with her self, but this girl has more drive than a Formula 1 car – she’s a woman on a mission to explore, experience and grow as both a climber and a person.  She was rained off for a few days on a recent trip to Yosemite unfortunately.  Yet alas!  Here was our chance to hang and swing with Mina for a few mins….

Congrats on sending Mecca!  What did you take from that route that you can use to better your performance going forwards?

Thank you! Gosh, there is always a lot to learn from trying something at one’s limit. I think, most of all, I was reminded again that when you put all your energy into something and try really hard you can achieve something that perhaps you once thought unachievable. Mecca was a big step up for me and something that I was psyched about and intimidated by. When I first tried it I thought it may be too hard for me but training, effort and mainly perseverance won through. Looking forward I will to remember this and not be too scared to try something harder. What is the worst that can happen after all?

You’ve been candid and open about the mental aspects of climbing and how this can affect you.  What have you learned about yourself in this regard and how do you look to overcome any self-doubts or negative thoughts?

That’s a big question! I think every person is different in this regard and it is important to be self-aware if you are going to try to address negative thoughts or self-doubt. I spent some time working on managing my expectations and dealing with adversity. i.e. not letting “failure” upset me in competition. By “failure” I guess I mean my perceived failure – not reaching my goals or expectations of myself. This was useful in some ways but in the end was detrimental to me. The process involved altering my expectations so that I was happy with my performance – sounds good right? But this means accepting that you cannot achieve what deep down you know you can. I convinced myself that I wasn’t capable of more and tried to be happy with what I was achieving. Hard to articulate this process but the best thing I did was stop trying to manage myself so much and just go out there as confident as possible. This confidence doesn’t appear overnight though, I was lucky enough to have a surprise experience (at the 2012 Addidas Rockstars event) where I far exceeded my expectations – thus convincing myself with raw evidence that my managed expectations were not doing me justice. This positive experience boosted my confidence and helped me to see a greater potential in myself.

womens+rock+climbing+clothing© David Mason

What effect does a crowd have on you when you climb in a competition versus climbing alone with David in the mountains somewhere?

To be honest, I like the crowds in competition. I feel encouraged my hearing my team mates cheer me on and the general positive buzz and psyche gets me fired up! That works for competition and I love it but I also love the quiet and peace of climbing outside. I generally prefer climbing outside in small groups. The two are incomparable really, such different forms of the same sport.

Moving through the grades gets harder, the higher you go. Have you ever experienced a plateau?  And what advice have you got for a girl who’s trying to break into the next grade?

I have experienced a plateau, especially in competition climbing. I would advise thinking outside the box, change something. Whether you start to consider the mental aspect of your climbing plateau or physical limitations, it is always good to do something new to jolt out of a rut. Recently I made my training a lot more basic – running, press ups, pull ups – more general body fitness work. I would advise anyone wishing to improve their climbing to do some of this. It is fairly safe injury-wise, effective and often not what climbers do! We are all quick to fingerboard or campus but good old fashioned body conditioning and lots of climbing is a great way to overcome a plateau in my opinion.

Describe your perfect day. 

Oo – can I have a really long day? It would be climbing outside somewhere – probably South Africa – with David. A successful day for both of us, climbing well and feeling good, followed by good food with friends 🙂 

womens+rock+climbing+clothing© David Mason

Mina – great to hang with you.  Girls you must check out these 2 video’s of Mina in action….

Watch Mina crushing Mecca here 

Watch Mina doing the most amazing rock-over/mantle that starts at approx.1:25mins here!

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