December 3, 2020, by eayhem

Inclusive Sport Scholar Spotlight: Martha Evans

In celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Disability Sport Team at the University of Nottingham has teamed up with some of our fantastic scholars. Harry Manship, Disability Sport Ambassador, speaks to Martha Evans to give you an exclusive insight into a day in her life as an elite student athlete.

The day starts bright and early for the University’s very own Paraclimbing scholar, Martha Evans. Martha, who studies Sport and Exercise Science at Nottingham, has represented Great Britain at international competitions such as the World Paraclimbing Championships. Martha competes in the RP3 category after developing scoliosis – abnormal curvature of the spine.

Cycling might not be the first thing you’d think of an elite level climber doing, but that is usually the best way to get to the first session of the day. However, Martha can attest that it is a brilliant method of warming up prior to arriving at the bouldering gym – even better given that the gym itself is freezing cold! Normally, Martha starts a session by attempting some easier boulders. For those who don’t know, bouldering is the act of climbing without any harnesses, usually not too far off the ground with some helpful crash mats below for the inevitable moment that something goes wrong.

More specific training routines follow shortly after. Normally, Martha tries to focus on:

  • Lock-offs, which is when a climber uses tension in their body plus one arm to hold themselves in place before reaching for the next hold.
  • Half-crimp pulls, which are a fantastic way to improve grip and involve limiting the space that the fingers can hold on to, therefore, improving hand strength.
  • Velocity pull ups, which look to train the fibres of the muscles to get used to generating as much force as possible, as quickly as possible.

After a very successful session of bouldering, Martha warms down with a quick cycle home.

It is very important that whilst being a high level climber at university also involves some studying too. Martha studies Sport and Exercise Science which is a relatively new course at the University of Nottingham and it is paramount that she is able to comfortably balance both sport and academia. A helpful way that many athletes use to find time for both is by training either in the morning or in the evening to leave the rest of the day for work and relaxation. Also, nutrition is key and a healthy, balanced diet with a high amount of fruit and veg is very important to staying energised throughout the day.

When utilising our fantastic climbing wall at the David Ross Sports Village, Martha climbs all the routes using the auto-belay system… just to warm up! Training on campus is usually endurance focussed and so Martha uses a 10 minute on, 10 minute off technique to really work her body as hard as possible.

Another interesting piece of equipment that climbers use is the moon board. This may look like a normal climbing wall, just with a few extra holds, however, it is high-tech training method which allows climbers in Nottingham to attempt the same problems as professionals all over the world. Martha uses this towards the end of some sessions to practise working out routes and problems.

This training regime may sound intense but you’ll be even more surprised to hear that Martha trains four to five times per week! However, it is always wise to give yourself days off if you feel like your body needs it – come back stronger tomorrow. This level of effort makes it unsurprising that Martha is so talented and will most certainly go far in competitive climbing. We can’t wait to see more of Martha at the climbing wall as things hopefully start to go a bit back to normal as we approach Christmas.

Posted in Inclusive Sport