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Rockcity in Hull hits new heights with Olympic Games success

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A popular Hull climbing venue has reached the top after its equipment was chosen to support world-class athletes at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Rockcity Climbing in Hawthorn Avenue has supplied more than 100 pieces of equipment for competitors at the Games.

The firm has supplied 130 climbing holds in two categories, macros, which are large fibreglass shapes, and volumes, made from plywood, which will be used in the bouldering and lead climbing parts of the combined event.

Rockcity had to provide colours especially for the Tokyo Olympics. Some shapes and technologies were so new that the ones used at the Games were the first off of the production line.

Following the addition of these pieces into the International Federation of Sport Climbing T20 climbing holds catalogue, the firm has received orders from national teams and athletes from around the world, specifically to train for this month’s events.

It is expected that after the Games, the demand for the Hull brand will grow as the indoor gym market picks up following closures around the world related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rockcity founder and managing director Mark English said: “We are really excited that products designed by us at Rockcity have been selected for the Olympic debut of sport climbing. Our early days experimenting with climbing walls and climbing holds we made in Hull for our climbing gym stood us in good stead for the future.

“Back in the late 1990s when we held the first S7 British Bouldering Championships, we never thought that group of people would see international route setters and other officials that would work on the biggest events like the World Cups and even now the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“It’s not been easy, especially with the games being postponed and the chaos caused by the pandemic, but it’s starting to feel like a real success to know the Olympics are going ahead finally and all of our team’s hard work will have paid off.

“In the beginning when we floated the idea of building an artificial rock climbing gym on Hessle Road, it was not fully appreciated. It didn’t make financial sense at a time before community interest companies were a thing. But then, a short time after opening, and mostly because we had two new local councillors in St Andrews Ward, Nadine Fudge and Darren Hale, we achieved support from Hull City Council for the next 25 years.

“I think Hull has kept this pioneering spirit. We are based a few streets down from where Amy Johnson grew up. So, really crazy sporting projects and achievements come with the HU3 postcode.”

Akiyo Noguchi at the IFSC Climbing World Championships. Picture: Hiroaki Yamamoto

Rockcity already exports to all of Europe, Australia, Japan, USA, South Korea and China. Supplying both National Teams and privately elite athletes and medal contenders at the Tokyo Games.

Councillor Daren Hale, Leader of Hull City Council, said: “I couldn’t be prouder that Rockcity, a well-known and successful Hull brand, has reached the very top of its field. There is no higher level than the Olympics, where the world’s best are literally being supported by equipment designed and made in Hull.

“For many, many years, the late Councillor Nadine Fudge and I worked hard to give Mark and his team a platform to build a business that was nothing like anything else in the city. It’s a wonderful facility ran by creative and determined people. This appearance at the Games in Tokyo will see Rockcity go from strength to strength I am sure.”

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