Episode 15: Tiffany Melius
RACQ member Tiffany Melius was just 14-years-old when she fell in love with Sports Climbing, little did she know that her hobby could one day take her to the Olympics.
Now living in Canada, this determined Aussie is training 30 hours per week to secure a spot at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
This will be the first year that Sports Climbing is an Olympic sport, with only 20 male and 20 female climbers in the world set to compete.
“The initiative to have Sports Climbing put on the program has been going on for a number of years,” Ms Melius said.
“I think one of the strongest reasons why climbing has been included in the 2020 Olympics is because it is in Tokyo and Japan is very dominant in the international climbing competition scene.
“They were obviously big advocates to showcase their athletes and dominance in the sport.”
Ms Melius said it’s likely only one spot per gender will be available at the 2019 Continental Oceania Championship which could determine who qualifies for the Australian Olympic team.
“My goal is to be that one woman to get that spot,” Ms Melius said.
Tiffany is one of the most experienced competitors, having completed in more than 100 competitions in 50 countries.
As the Australian Institute of Sport does not provide any funding to climbers, Tiffany relies heavily on her sponsors and donors for accommodation, gym fees, competition fees and physiotherapy.
Ms Melius said the only setback in her career was when she fell from a climb in California in 2011, breaking her heel bone in six places.
“I was unable to put weight on my foot for nine weeks so the return to climbing was very slow,” Ms Melius said.
“When I went back into competitions I started off feeling not very strong or confident but I have a very competitive nature so I had to basically decide what was my purpose? If I wasn’t going in it to win it then why was I doing it?”
Ms Melius rediscovered her love for climbing and continued excelling in Sport Climbing competitions across the world.
“Climbing has been a love of mine for so long and it’s part of my identity,” Ms Melius said.
“The idea of competing at the highest level in the most prestigious event in sport - and I never thought in a million years climbing would be at the Olympics - is huge."
“Just the possibility of being able to do it is such an honour.”
To hear Tiffany’s full story, listen to RACQ's Your shout podcast below.
Images by Kyle Rurak and Sytse van Slooten.