Sunderland visually impaired climber targets another gold for Britain at IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup

World champion Abbie with the technology she says has enabled her to thrive. Credit: Thom Hobbs

One of Britain's most decorated paraclimbers has announced she will compete for her sixth consecutive international gold medal at the World Cup in Austria this summer.

Twenty-three-year-old Abbie Robinson from Sunderland suffers from the degenerative eye condition Stargardt Macular Dystrophy, which causes gradual central vision loss and affects colours and sight detail.

Diagnosed in 2015 at the age of 17, she now relies solely on her peripheral vision - comparing her visual impairment to holding a football in front of her face.

But the diagnosis did not impair her burgeoning passion for climbing. After placing third at the Scottish Youth Bouldering Championships for two years running despite deteriorating vision, she was encouraged to join the GB Climbing Team.

Over the five years since, she has won the same number of international competitions, including her first World Cup in France and four successive World Championships in Innsbruck, Briancon and Moscow.

Ms Robinson attributes much of her success to technological advancements.

When she is on the wall, her sight guide talks to her through a headset, guiding her up the route by describing the direction, size and shape of each hold - "basically acting as my eyes," she explained.

Abbie Robinson says she's passionate about the way technology can help her and others overcome disability. Credit: OrCam

She is supported day-to-day by OrCam Technologies, which produces a handheld digital reader that reads text aloud from any printed surface or digital screen in real time.

It allows her to travel independently around airports and train stations, and to choose products in supermarkets and meals in restaurants.

"I’m thrilled to be competing in my fourth international competition season and so proud to be representing the GB Paraclimbing Team," Ms Robinson announced on Tuesday 14 June.

She said she was passionate about how technology could help her and others overcome disability, adding: "It has also made me more determined than ever to continue my dream of raising global awareness for paraclimbing, taking me one step closer to fulfilling my lifelong dream of making it a Paralympic event."

The two IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup competitions will take place in Innsbruck, Austria on 21 June – 22 June and Villars, Switzerland on 8 July – 9 July 2022, attracting athletes from over 30 different nations.

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