Rachel Maia wasn’t sure she’d make it to this year’s climbing nationals, but she’s so glad she did.
“I think it's such a positive thing to be back around the climbing family, when I think about why I climb it's always the people."
The 36-year-old wasn’t able to climb much in the build up to the championships - three months ago she opted to have her lower leg amputated to stop chronic pain suffered after a climbing accident shattered her ankle when she was 16.
Just days after the operation, lying in her hospital bed, she was determined to be back competing sooner rather than later, telling 1 NEWS in February: “I 100 per cent intend to get to NZ Nationals."
And she did, although there were challenges to come, Maia ripping the nail off her only big toe just minutes before her qualifying climb.
“I said to somebody please could you go and find my coach, I might need some tape,” she joked.
While the final didn’t go as well as she would have liked the nationals are just the first step on her way to the World Championships in France in eight weeks' time.
“Definitely my performance was not where I want it to be and I’m a lot harder on myself than I need to be so I’ve got to keep my head in a really positive mindset and focus on all the things that I got out of this, that are building towards the competition in France.”
Last year Maia became New Zealand’s first competitor at the event, finishing fourth.
Her latest nationals experience is one to learn from.
“It's been tough out there, my body is definitely struggling and I'm well aware of lots of areas to work out but it's kind of amped me up.”