Victorian Institute of Sport

Vertical Life | Oceana Mackenzie

Wednesday, 09 October 2019

VIS athlete Oceana Mackenzie has been hooked on Sport Climbing since she was eight years old, and now at 16 years young she is well on her way to becoming one of Australia’s greatest sport climbers.

She is a VIS Future Talent scholarship holder supported by the Carbine Club, and a member of the Australian Team for Bouldering, Lead and Speed Climbing. 

She made history at the first Bouldering World Cup in Switzerland in April by becoming the first ever Australian female to make the final of a Sport Climbing World Cup. She placed sixth in the final in only her second ever senior event, and now has her eyes well and truly set on the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.


She spoke to Communications and Marketing Manager, Ashley Gillespie;

AG: How did you first get involved in Sport Climbing?

OM: My Mum used to climb when she was younger and she took me and one of my sisters, and we started climbing and loved it. I now climb five days a week and practice all three disciplines - speed climbing (a race to the top), lead climbing (increasing difficulty for increased points) and bouldering (a series of routes requiring analytical thinking as well as athleticism).

AG: Why do you love it?

OM: I love everything about it! I’m a really competitive person, and I love competing against the wall – assessing it and then trying to figure out how to do the climb and complete it – it takes smarts, speed, strength and flexibility. I also love how it always pushes me to get better. The community in sport climbing is also really great and it’s so fun to climb with lots of people.

AG: What do you enjoy most about training and competition?

OM: I’m very determined and physically quite flexible. I definitely try to work on everything and particularly love training my weaknesses and getting better, which I think is a big strength for me as an athlete. I’m also VERY competitive! When I competed last year (when I was 15) I was technically too young to compete with the adults, but I’d often beat them as a wildcard competitor and I loved the thrill of winning!

AG: How do you settle your nerves before big competitions?

OM: I have only been competing for two years internationally - 2019 has been my biggest season so far. I just try to be in the moment, know that I have prepared for the competition well and I’ve done all that I can – and then to just enjoy it. I’m quite an introvert, so my Sports Psych has helped me get some strategies in place to help prepare for big comps.

AG: Sport Climbing in making it’s Olympic debut in Toyko 2020 – how excited are you?

OM: It’s so exciting that Sport Climbing is at the Olympics! When I first started, you wouldn’t even know that there were competitions, it was super small and only a few people tried it out. Now that it’s in the Olympics, heaps more people are trying it and loving it. It’s going to be awesome to see how everyone goes in the three disciplines in Tokyo, and to see new athletes from different countries. It’s really cool!

AG: How has the VIS supported you?

OM: I’ve been on scholarship now for 18 months and it has been awesome. I have access to the Sport Psych, Nutritionist and my Strength and Conditioning Coach, Jono. I do two strength sessions a week plus two sprint sessions at the VIS - I used to run like a baby Giraffe but I have got much better! I love coming into the VIS to do my workouts, rather than having to do them after my climbing sessions, which used to make for a really long day and late night!

AG: Tell us something people might not know about you!

OM: I’ve got a few! I’m vegan, I have five sisters, I’m home-schooled and I was home birthed!


If there is any up and coming athlete you should be keeping your eye on, it’s Oceana!


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