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Rock climbing, where participants ascend or descend natural rock formations is not an easy sport. It requires not only physical strength, but also, complete mental concentration. But don't tell 20-year old Sasha diGuilian that. This fearless girl who has been dominating the sport ever since she entered the fray, is just getting warmed up.
The bubbly youngster who is also pursuing a creative writing degree at Columbia University says that she began climbing even before she could walk! As a baby, she was constantly escaping from her cot and as a toddler always leading her friends to the nearest rocks or hills. Then at the age of seven she attended her brother's birthday party at a local rock climbing gym and knew she had found her calling!
Soon after, she joined the local center in her home town of Alexandria, Virginia and began climbing - First once a week, then twice and soon, almost every day! Her aha moment came at the age of nine when she won her first climbing competition by participating in an event that she hadn't even been aware of, until she went to the gym for her normal climbing routine. Her competitive nature and love for the sport immediately kicked in and she began training in earnest, but this time outside the gym - climbing real mountains. And, she hasn't looked back since.
As a youngster, she dominated the Junior Continental Championships from 2004-2010. Then, as soon as she was old enough, went on to grab the Pan American Championship, the US National Championship and in 2011, at just 18 years of age, was crowned Female Overall World Champion in Arco, Italy in inaugural attempt!
She is also the youngest woman to have completed a 5.14d graded climb - Considered the holy grail of climbing, it involves ascending rocks that are predominantly vertical and is something that even most experienced climbers are a little afraid to take on, because a small slip could result in a severe injury or even death.
So what's left for this amazing youngster to achieve? An Olympic gold! Unfortunately while the Olympic Committee recognizes rock climbing as a sport, it does not include it in the roster of games. But that has not deterred this determined girl. She has joined forces with the International Federation of Sport Climbing to convince the committee to add rock climbing to the 2020 Olympics and we would not be surprised if they do!
Resources: Dailymail.co.uk, seventeen.com, sasha-digulian.com