13-year-old Ashima Shiraishi competing in the Portland Boulder Rally. Photo by Ben Moon.
Today we’ve got a great read from guest contributor John Burgman on a question competitive sports have been asking for decades…
How young is too young for a climber to be crushing it in competitions?
If you went to the fridge for another beer at some point while YouTubing the recent 2014 Portland Boulder Rally, you might have missed the off-handed commentary about age restrictions that sparked discussion of the question on social media and message boards—in essence, reigniting a timeless debate that spans all sports.
Here are the details: while sharing play-by-play duties at the commentary desk, bouldering superstar Alex Johnson was asked how she felt about Ashima Shiraishi being allowed to compete in the Portland competition, despite the fact that Shiraishi is under 16 years old.
“A lot of these events lately haven’t been conforming to the 16-and-up, pro-event rule, so it has been interesting having [Shiraishi] thrown into the mix,” Johnson said.
Johnson was then asked her opinion on so many recent competitions not adhering to the widely-accepted age restrictions.
“Personally, for me, it is frustrating…” Johnson said. “But then, on the other hand, when [Alex] Puccio and I were 13, we were doing the same thing, competing against Lisa Rands, and now I feel bad about it. I feel like I should have waited until I was 16. It’s frustrating, but only personally because of my ego, I think.”