‘I won’t be shamed to stop climbing, even if it’s just days until I give birth’

I’ve got a team of specialists supporting me. I started working with a women’s health physiotherapist at eight weeks pregnant, to know that what I was doing was safe for me and safe for my baby. 

I didn’t even know what the parameters were around exercise during pregnancy, so wanted to work with someone that could keep an eye on my body so if anything did go wrong, we were being very proactive. (And by ‘go wrong’ I mean from a physiological perspective, not from a falling perspective – I’ve climbed a lot in my career without falling off.) 

I’ve also worked with my team who were by my side throughout the Olympics and communicated with my midwives and my doctors.

I’ve made huge adjustments to how I climb too. I’m not doing any big dynamic movements and there’s always options for me to back off or come down safely. My husband has been supporting me throughout too. I think a lot of people have questioned why he’s seen spotting me, if I’m so confident I’m not going to fall, but he’s actually there to give me a little extra boost if I need it rather than as a spotter. He’s very aware of what I’m physically capable of.

What people see me doing, in their head, they perceive as difficult because it might be for them. That’s been one of the trickiest things to get across: I’m doing maybe five per cent of the amount of climbing I was doing in the lead up to Tokyo. These climbs aren’t hard for me.

‘This is about athletes breaking down stereotypes and the taboo’

I’ve seen so many friends of mine go through pregnancy and keep climbing – some literally climbed until the day they gave birth. They’ve all made different choices because every pregnancy is different. There’s athletes like Rachel Atherton, who was riding a mountain bike well into her pregnancy and doing it unapologetically. That inspired me. 

I think it’s so hard for people to understand where her comfort zone lies, because she’s an elite athlete, and this is especially true in non-traditional, often considered ‘extreme sports’ like ours.

I had no idea what my pregnancy would be like and was curious to know whether I’d still get any satisfaction from climbing because for as long as I can remember I’ve found that in pushing my limits – not pottering around doing easy climbs. But it’s been incredibly refreshing to reconnect with the sport in a way that I’d kind of lost.

I’m not surprised I’m still climbing with just days until my due date. I’m a bit more tired than usual, I can only do about an hour max these days, but I’m surprised how good I still feel. My body needs that movement, as does my mind.

This is about athletes breaking down stereotypes and the taboo. I’ve received thousands of messages supporting me and many from women reaching out who have actually kept climbing because of seeing my posts. That alone makes all the judgment and hate worth it.