Professional climber, Jennifer Wood, has confirmed she has her sights set on Paris 2024 after narrowly missing out on this summer’s olympics.
Wood, 26, relocated to Sheffield last year to pursue her dream of representing Great Britain in an Olympic games.
Growing up in Manchester, the athlete got into climbing at the age of 12 at a friends birthday party, within four years she had been called up to represent the Team GB junior squad.
“I remember my call up pretty well, because it was in the summer of 2012 and I was on my way to watch the Olympics and I got a call from Team GB saying there’s a spot for you if you want it.” Wood told us.
Her decision to join the squad was quickly vindicated and within two years she had been promoted from the junior squad into the senior squad for whom she participated at the European and World Championships.
Even more impressively, Wood was able to combine her promising sporting career with her studies, moving to the University in Sheffield in 2014 to study Biochemistry for her undergraduate degree.
Wood explained that the city’s vast array of climbing walls and natural spots in the Peak District, means that Sheffield is the perfect location for her:
“I am pretty spoiled for choice, in Sheffield
“The climbing works is across the road from me where Team GB have built a specific training facility.”
The training facility in Sheffield has been perfect for Wood, who, even though she works another job on the side her role in Team GB meant she benefitted from the Elite sport exemption enabling her to continue training during the pandemic. She said this has been critical for continuing her development: “It was super useful, and it allowed us to prepare for the competitions.”
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Wood specialises in Bouldering, which is among the three climbing disciplines that will be introduced to the Olympic Games this summer in Tokyo alongside lead-climbing and speed climbing. She told us that due to her lack of experience in speed climbing this is something she needs to improve if she is to make the squad for Paris 2024.
The huge rise in sport’s popularity has helped it achieve its Olympic status and Wood welcomed the increase in walls that have been created as a byproduct of it and the rise in quality that it has created.
“When I was younger my mum would have to drive 40 minutes just to get to one climbing wall. Nowadays, I’ve got five to choose from within a 20 minute drive. The quality has gone up loads also, the climbing walls are in competition with each other so some of them are enormous now.”
A European Universities champion at bouldering, Wood has not ruled out the prospect of returning to the University of Sheffield to study for her PHD but for now, it seems she is focussing on her very promising climbing prospects.