Ashima Shiraishi, 14, Crushes It On The Rocks

by Trina Remedios
While other kids were playing kickball, young Ashima Shiraishi was clawing her way up mountains. Now, 9th grader Ashima took the first place medal at the 2015 International Federation Of Sports Climbing, and there's no looking back.
Prepared To Be Amazed
She goes by the names 'Bouldering Phenom' or the 'Young Crusher', which seem quite fitting considering she was the first and youngest woman to complete a climb on a 9a+ (5.15a) difficulty level sport route. Ashima's love affair began with bouldering and went on to sport climbing, and she's now training to take on two more levels that are tougher than any she's mounted before.
When you watch her in action, you can't help but be at the edge of your seat as the 14-year-old leaps to the top, sometimes hanging by the edge as she clenches her five little fingers on the blocks. She makes her petite and agile body work to her advantage and believes that one doesn't need muscle power to carry their bodyweight; with the right skills and tricks, you can develop your own technique to race to the top.

She's The Next Big Thing, No Doubt About It!
Ask Chris Sharma, the best rock climber in the world, what he thinks about Ashima and he says, "Her climbing IQ and the way she moves is just so intuitive; almost like she was born to climb."

Ashima has appeared on TEDxTeen and The Late Late Show With James Corden, as well. She was also featured on Disney Channel's Night of Dreams, which is a great platform that encourages kids, especially girls, to push their limits. The biggest accolade of the lot though, would have to be having her name among the Time's 30 Most Influential Teens of 2015 list, where she was featured alongside music artists, entrepreneurs, athletes and reality stars from across the world.
Ashima's Secrets
She trains five days a week at indoor climbing gyms, and also works out to build endurance, stamina and strength to take on bigger and steeper routes. Her father's dance background is weaved into her pre-climbing stretches, too. The warm-up loosens the muscles and prevents spasms and cramps when you're hanging of the edge.

Interested In The Sport?
Rock climbing can be done for recreational purposes or to train your body to get fitter and stronger; you could also choose to compete in the sport. It demands functional movements such as swinging and leaping, and while being flexible and strong will help you greatly, mental preparation is just as important. Needless to say, anyone afraid of heights should steer clear. You need to be able to conentrate, stay confident, not get anxious or nervous when you look over your shoulder, and be determined to climb to the top. 
So, if you feel passionate about the sport, there's very little that can stop you. Ashima proves that not everything needs to fit to scale, be age-appropriate or gender specific. At 14, she's undubitably one of the best rock climbers in the world and is set to soar great heights in the future. Look out for this fearless firecracker in the headlines.
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