Among the small handful of women to have climbed 5.15, including Margo Hayes and Angy Eiter, is Anak Verhoeven, from Belgium. Verhoeven established the first ascent of Sweet Neuf (5.15a) in 2017, an accomplishment she listed next to her three Lead World Cup titles. Verhoeven, 23, is a full-time athlete and devoted Christian. She spends her time training and practicing her faith, as well as taking photos, getting outside and reading books. Currently suffering from an elbow injury, Verhoeven aims to be healthy by the end of 2019. In the future, she will continue to push herself outdoors as well as in competition. Someday, Verhoeven hopes to claim a World Championship medal.
Oceana Mackenzie, 16, is strong, flexible and has a knack for jumping. The new age parkour-style bouldering suits her—she’s not afraid of double clutches or volume running. Mackenzie, from Australia, has five sisters. Like most girls her age, she spends time doing schoolwork, getting brunch with friends, shopping and posting pictures of food on Instagram. When she’s in the gym, however, her youthful age doesn’t align with her masterly expertise—Mackenzie moves. Her long-term goal is to qualify for the 2020 Olympics as well as win a World Cup, and she’s well on her way. In the recent Meiringen Bouldering World Cup, in Switzerland, she was the youngest female finalist. Still, Mackenzie maintains a humble goal for 2019: “to learn, gain experience and to have fun!”
Aleksandra (Ola) Rudzińska
Simply put, Ola Rudzińska, 25, looks like an athlete. She’s lean and tan, with hawkish eyes and an expression that means business. Her mantra, “Never give up,” is exemplified in her training and competition routines: She’s focused, cool-headed and confident, an attitude that helped her earn the 2018 World Championship title for Speed in Innsbruck. Prior to that, Rudzińska struggled to stay true to her mantra. “In this time, I had a lot of failures,” she told Gym Climber. Still, she stuck it out. Days before the competition, Rudzińska bought two boxes of ice cream in preparation for her hopeful breakfast of champions. Luckily it didn’t go to waste. In her free time, Rudzińska coaches young athletes and is currently planning her wedding. “I think the most important [thing] for me is my family and private life,” she said. “Someday I will finish my career, but still I will have my family and friends with me.”