As an incomplete tetraplegic, following a spinal cord injury, Fran Brown regularly climbs 7c and last year won the World Para Climbing Championships (for the second time). She works as a professional percussionist and is currently studying to be a physiotherapist. Other interests include surfing, skydiving and sit in ski-ing.
“At the beginning 99% of my life was taken up by my disability. Now it’s more like 10%. Life has been pretty good for the last 3 years, living life doing what you love.”
What do you love about climbing?
I love the freedom of being outside, being in nature. You don’t need loads of stuff! There are moments when you’re the only one out there. It’s really special.
How does it feel when you’re doing really well on a climb?
Very satisfied cos I know I’ve pushed myself to the limit and succeeded. Those times motivate me for when I’m having a crappy day. I try to climb within my limit. I don’t want to be so scared and not enjoy it if I climb a lot harder than my skills.
What’s your biggest climbing achievement?
Most people would say it would be winning the world para-championships ( 2012 & 2014). But it’s getting back to climbing outdoors and doing it in a way that isn’t special. I don’t need extra stuff or help. I can keep things simple, keep my independence and know I’m not being a burden on anyone.
What do you do when you prepare for a competition?
Before a comp. I like to be prepared and know everything about the venue. I’ll know the rules on the day, details of the comp. Then when I arrive I’m very relaxed and chilled out. I’m not social in comps. I just listen to music.
I like to train with friends so it’s fun. This motivates me.
What does your training programme look like. How do you keep fit?
Different training phases depend on whether I am training for a competition or trip. For cardio I do swimming, lift weights (pushing not pulling –opposite to normal climbing movements). Generally I climb 5 times a week and climb 7c when fit.
What’s your next climbing goal?
I want to do more climbing outdoors. I might do the Euro’s and might to the Roach Masters.
What is your recipe for success at the World Championships?
What I do is I don’t make any mistakes. That’s all you can do and then if you don’t win it’s either because someone is better than you or physically you can’t do more…I have made mistakes and then I get cross with myself.