Kiwi para-climber Rachel Maia undergoes life changing amputation, keen to still compete

Whanganui para-climber Rachel Maia has had a whirlwind last six months, from becoming the first New Zealand para-athlete to compete at the climbing world championships last year to undergoing life-changing surgery.

She finished fourth at the para-wall climbing world champs in 2018 and decided to have a knee leg amputation in Wellington.

"It's not like a haircut where you wake up and, 'Crap that’s a bit short - oh well, it’ll grow back'," she said.

Maia has lived with chronic pain since she was 16, when a climbing accident shattered her left ankle.

After more than two decades away from the climbing wall, she has shown in just a few months that she has what it takes to compete at the top level.

She remarkably has competition on her mind, just two and a half days after surgery.

"We have New Zealand Nationals around the 18th of May, which is around 11-12 weeks away. My balance is going to be off, my strength is going to be down, but my head is going to be in the right place. One hundred per cent intend to get to NZ Nationals."

Climbing is a big part of Maia's life, but it wasn't the most important reason to undergo the surgery. As a single mother of three, she says her children always come first.

"It's difficult for my elder child, Charlotte. She has superpowers which happen to be called autism and intellectual disability," Maia said. 

"I've been preparing her for a couple of years and she's taken the time to just be tactile, and just rub the leg and connect to what’s going on."

The first NZ para-climber to go to world champs last year, she has recently had a below-the-knee amputation. Source: 1 NEWS

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