I`m Huang Baile. I`m 36 years old and I`ve represented Taiwan in international rock climbing competitions for over ten years. My greatest ambition is to win the gold at the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung.
Many people think of rock climbing as a sport for men, or the domain of macho men. The female rock climbers now representing Taiwan internationally are truly rare birds--there are only ten of us. Should any of us choose to have a child, our numbers would thin still further.
To me, rock climbing is a sport in which you demonstrate extraordinary skills on a vertical rock face. Climbers grip small protrusions and fissures with their hands and feet to propel themselves upwards. It takes skill, courage, and physical strength. Climbers must also develop stamina, flexibility, balance, decision-making skills and mental toughness. Moves such as traversing, mantling, adjusting your center of gravity, and moving to a new hold all require much more than just strength.
I fell in love with climbing the first time I went out with my climbing club in my sophomore year at university. We went to Peitou`s Cannon Rock. I later came to love the feeling you get during competitions. Climbing competitions have given me a goal in life. I train endlessly to excel and to win. It`s all about pushing my limits and being number one.
Women have two principal advantages over men as climbers--we are lighter and more flexible. And we are certainly a match for men in terms of physical coordination. Women sometimes even outscore men in bouldering competitions, which stress explosive strength, technique and decision-making. I remember steeling myself to compete in the men`s group in two domestic competitions in 1998. I ended up outscoring most of the men, finishing second at one and fourth at the other. 但畢竟在攀岩界中，女性還是屬於少數民族，有時免不了遭受排擠。「我們都上不去了，妳怎麼可能上得去？」、「哇！屁股這麼大，還敢出來比賽！」「黃百樂能夠專心比賽拿冠軍，是因為沒結婚、不必照顧小孩」等嘲諷的話，我已經聽了10年了。這也難怪，男人總覺得被女人超越很沒面子，好像他們的男性優勢受到質疑了。
Nonetheless, women remain in the minority in the climbing community and sometimes even face discrimination. You often hear men say things like, "If we can`t get up there, how`s she going to do it?" or "The reason Huang Baile has been able to focus on and win competitions is that she isn`t married and doesn`t have to take care of any kids." I`ve been hearing dismissive remarks like that for ten years. It`s hardly a surprise. Men always feel humiliated when they`re beaten by a woman.
我也不跟他們吵，直接在他們面前攀給他們看。當攀爬到最高點，順繩下到地面時，我才淡淡地對剛剛鄙眼笑我的男生說：「攀爬的樂趣與自由，不會因為我是女生而打折扣的。」不過，哈哈，可能也是因為我衝破了性別藩籬，成為他們眼中「不乖巧」的女生，所以才常常找不到可以砥礪練習的岩伴，與願意在下面幫我拉著繩索確保安全的同伴吧！ I don`t argue with them; I just let them watch me climb. After reaching the summit, I come back down and mildly say to whomever was just mocking me, "I don`t enjoy climbing any less because I`m a woman." But, maybe because I`ve broken through gender barriers, I`m not seen as some kind of "adorable" girl and often can`t find a climbing partner to belay me or practice with me.
而女性的表現也常會因為外在條件限制被壓抑。我在2002年7月舉行的總統盃攀岩抱石錦標賽奪得女子冠軍時發現，就算我的成績排名優於男子組冠軍，但男子組冠軍獎金達1萬2千元，女子組僅區區5千元而已，連男性的一半都不到。Women`s performances are also often limited by outside factors. After I won the July 2002 President`s Cup bouldering competition, I learned that the prize for winning the women`s group was only NT$5,000, or less than half the NT$12,000 awarded to the winner of the men`s group. And I had outscored him!
我就跑去跟主辦單位抗議，得到的答覆是「根據規定，男子參賽人數較多，競爭激烈，而女子參賽人數少，水準較差。為了擔心男子選手抗議，所以獎金比女子多，」以及「選手不該為了獎金而比賽，要為崇高的運動精神而競爭。」這樣的回答讓我錯愕不已，一度還因為我「過於積極爭取權利」，面臨禁賽的判決。 When I protested, I was told, "Competitors should not enter for the money. They should compete for the love of the sport." Their response left me slack-jawed, and for a time I was even barred from competition for "fighting too hard" for my rights.
People not only doubt my strength, they tell me I`m not tall enough to climb. I`m only 147 centimeters tall, and people often ask how it is that I can climb. They`re surprised when they first see me, but then shift gears. "Rock climbers have to reach out for protrusions with their hands and feet to get up a rock face," they say. "But you`re so little. Can you really climb?"
I`ve answered this so many times that I can`t be bothered to explain anymore. I just flex my biceps, showing them the results of ten hours a day spent climbing, swimming, and doing sets of 20 chin-ups. A competitor`s determination to overcome adversity and degree of self-confidence are critical, too, because competing over long periods is really wearing.
Seeing me worrying about money on top of my grueling training and competition regimen, a business-graduate friend recommended I put together a competition proposal and use it to seek financial support from businesses and the government. I took a look at CommonWealth magazine`s list of Taiwan`s top 1,000 businesses, and began making calls, starting from the top. If I was lucky, they might ask me to send over a proposal. But more often they told me they didn`t currently have the resources to support me and brought the conversation to a cold end. I made more than 100 calls and in the end only Huang Cheng-an, owner of the Sweet Potato Vine Climbing Center, responded with an offer of NT$100,000 in support.
Male competitors usually don`t bother to use their business skills to write up a list of their achievements and discuss their future prospects. I, on the other hand, persisted in the face of setbacks. After writing many letters to Lin Te-fu, then the chairman of the National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (NCPFS), I received funding from both the NCPFS and the King Car Education Foundation in 2003 and 2005. Having my expenses covered, and actually receiving more support than any other climber in Taiwan, made my male counterparts jealous. Someone even questioned my character online. 所幸那段日子也是我最風光、得意的幾年。繼1998年我在新加坡拿下國際攀岩難度賽女子組冠軍後，接連2001年於亞洲錦標賽女子組第3名，2002年在扶輪盃難度賽與速度賽中則是女子組雙冠軍。
Fortunately, this came about during my best years: In 1998, I won the women`s division of the difficulty competition at the international rock climbing championships in Singapore. In 2001, I placed third in the women`s division at the Asian championships. In 2002, I won the women`s division in both the speed and difficulty competitions at the Rotary Cup.
Last year, I was fortunate to receive NT$1.05 million in support from the Keep Walking Fund on the condition that I train for and complete six to eight international events in two years. The sponsors told me that prior to the interview, I was not even one of their top six candidates.
For many years, my family members were not sympathetic. But my dedicated, solitary persistence and aggressive efforts to get funding won them over. They are now my most ardent (though quiet) supporters. As I continue to travel this path, my greatest challenges are my age and injuries from excessive long-term stress on my muscles. Honestly, my biggest issue isn`t my age, but the planning of my future career. Then again, I need only remember two things to find the courage to soldier on. 一件是因攀岩賽事發生意外而過世的18歲法國男選手曾經告訴我：「有些事情現在不做，未來不見得有機會做。一定要趁年輕，積極做自己想做的事，才不枉此生。」另一件事情就是，1998年時，我在新加坡拿下攀岩難度賽冠軍的那刻。當我完成路線攀岩後，原本沒信心的我被歡聲雷動的鼓掌聲「嚇」了一跳，才回過神來。大家的鼓勵是我堅持下去的動力，我也熱愛這樣的掌聲。接下來兩個月，我都將在日本接受訓練，忙碌的課程讓我沒時間質疑別人的「質疑」，這樣也好，因為我本來就是用行動證明一切的人。 The first is something an 18-year-old French climber, who died as a result of an accident in competition, told me. He said: "There are some things you have to do now because you might not have the chance to do them later. If you don`t want your life to go to waste, you have to spend your youth doing the things you want to do." The second thing is when I won the difficulty competition in Singapore in 1998. I`d never had much confidence in myself and was shocked by the thunderous applause I received when I finished the route. I`ve held onto that cheering as a motivator. For the next two months, I`ll be training in Japan. Keeping busy learning leaves me no time to dwell on other people`s doubts. That`s good, because I believe actions speak louder than words.
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