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Interview with Mathilde Becerra, French National Champion Professional Rock Climber

We talked about the importance of sponsorship with Mathilde Becerra, who won the French Lead National Championship both in junior and senior categories. Professional Rock Climber Mathilde Becerra shared her opinions and experiences with me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Mathilde Becerra

Mathilde Becerra - Photo by Samuel Challéat


by Meryem Aksoy

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Mathilde started climbing in 2004 while she was 13 years old. Only three years later she joined the Youth Lead French Team and she won French Lead Junior National Championship in 2010, and French Lead National Championship in 2016. Besides her achievements in competitions, she loves outdoor climbing and routes like 8c/+ "Mind Control", Oliana, ESP. I had the opportunity to interview Professional Rock Climber Mathilde Becerra about her career and the importance of sponsorship in the continuity of rock climbers' careers. And Mathilde shared her opinions and experiences with me, thank you very much.

Mathilde Becerra

Mathilde Becerra - Photo by Samuel Challéat

Mathilde, what does climbing means for you? What do you feel while climbing?

Climbing is more than just a sport to me. It's a lifestyle and a mindset. Climbing gives me freedom and brings me to travel all over the world!

You have been climbing since you were 13 years old. How did you discover the climbing passion that takes you to the rocks? Who or what encouraged you?

As a kid, I was kind of hyperactive. When I found out about climbing, randomly through a friend, I instantly fell in love with the sport. The challenge of going the highest as possible (and the fact that it's a bit scary) got me completely hooked. Also, it's a sport where you constantly push your limits and go beyond what you could've imagined. It's very fulfilling.

Mathilde Becerra

Mathilde Becerra - Photo by Darwin Shots

Could you tell us about yourself? Who is Mathilde Becerra?

I would like to say that I'm a genuinely happy and driven person. I love to be passionate about what I do! Whenever I'm decided on achieving something, I give it 200%!

I've been climbing half of my life now and like I said before, it's my lifestyle now. But I'm not just an athlete. I'm also a "regular" person who likes to hang out with friends, travel, explore, and enjoy simple things.

Mathilde Becerra

Mathilde Becerra

You have a lot of national and international success in your career. Could you tell us about your achievements in your competition climbing career?

I have been competing in the French team for the last 10 years (makes me feel older suddenly haha). As a junior (youth categories) I was French National Champion and multiple times on international podiums. As a senior (19+), I was also French National Champion in 2016 and was regularly ranked within the top 10 in the World Cup circuit.

My best results so far: two 4th places in World Cups!

Besides this competition climbing career, you are very active in outdoor climbing. What was your biggest rock climbing achievements in your career? What are your favorite routes?

I love climbing outdoors more and more! I used to not like it as much because I started in a gym. But now I see the difference, and it's amazing.

My biggest achievements are:

8c/+ "Mind Control" in Oliana (Spain) 2018

A few 8A boulders but my favorites are: "Thunderbird" (Bishop), "Chbalanke" (Hueco Tanks), "Uniformicide" (Targassonne),...

Mathilde Becerra

Mathilde Becerra - Photo by Fabio Fin Photography

How do you compare to being at the top step of the podium and being at the peak of 8c/+ route?

Honestly, it's the same really deep satisfying feeling! You don't really know what happened and how you did it, but yet you're there. Those are incredible moments that are so rewarding of all the efforts put in.

What are the basic problems that climbers have been living during their competition and rock climbing career?

Well, clearly the problem is money. It is possible to get sponsorship for equipment and if you make it in a National team you get your travel expenses covered for international competitions. But other than that, it's really hard. Climbing is still a growing sport with a clear lack of money. Some brands will give you some financial support, but it's still far from being enough to make a decent living. So when you're training full time, it can become quite precarious.

Mathilde Becerra

Mathilde Becerra - Photo by Mathis Dumas

How could climbers solve these problems? What is the permanent solution?

The solution for climbers in that situation is to find good partners.

As successful competitors or outdoor climbers, we have a strong influence role on social media (assuming we know how to use it well). It can then be really interesting to work hand in hand with a company or a brand and help promote each other in the best way.

What is the best way to attract sponsors' attention?

Communication and visibility on social media, as well as spreading a positive and inspiring image.

What contributions do sponsor brands provide climbers?

It depends on each brand and each climber. The brand adapts to the achievements and the "potential" of the climber.

It usually starts with equipment donation, then there can be a bit of financial support, and eventually funding for travel and climbing trips (in exchange of photos/videos during that trip).

Mathilde Becerra

Mathilde Becerra - Photo by Darwin Shots

What do sponsors expect and demand from climbers?

Usually, they expect obviously to show the brand as much as possible: wear their apparel and equipment, be active on social media, using @ and #. Then it's really about conveying a positive image.

In your career, when did you first attract sponsors' attention? How did you do this?

I think the first time was when I got the French Junior National Champion's title. It's a very prestigious title that definitely opens doors. I simply sent an email to the brand and got a connection with them really quickly.

Mathilde Becerra

Mathilde Becerra - Photo by Sheila Farell Mccarron

Could you tell us about your sponsors? What are the brands that you collaborate with?

My first one is Arkose, which owns a network of bouldering gyms in France. They've offered me a great support so far and I'm happy to keep on collaborating with them.

My second one is Scarpa, a climbing shoe company. The same thing, they've been great to me and I really appreciate the way they treat their athletes.

I'm very happy about my partnerships at the moment, although I can't make a living out of them.

How many different platforms do you represent your sponsors throughout the year?

I mostly represent them on social media, competitions, and when they ask me I do events for them.

Mathilde Becerra

Mathilde Becerra - Photo by Darwin Shots

What are you paying attention to when a new brand contacted you about sponsorship? What are the main factors that affect the beginning and continuity of successful sponsorship?

I pay attention to the relationship mainly. It has to be something sincere and not like "adding one more to the herd". I want to feel like they chose me for specific reasons, just like I did.

Authenticity, respect, caring, and honesty are values I look for in a brand.

There has to be involvement from both sides and a real desire to help each other out for it to work long term.

Do you accept offers for one-off catalog shootings or campaign-based work even if it is not long-term sponsorship?

It depends. I accept photo shooting for random brands as a sports model. To me, that's just a different job!

For sponsorship, it will have to work with my current ones (no direct concurrent).

Do you have any advice for climbers who want to pursue a professional career?

I would say: try to keep something besides climbing to keep a good personal balance as well as financial income.

What do you think about social media? How did it affect the popularity of rock climbing?

Social media is great for making the sport grow and become more popular!

How can our readers follow you?

On Facebook: @mathildebecerra
On Instagram: @mathilde_becerra
On Youtube: @mathildebecerra

What is next for you?

A bunch of traveling, rock climbing trips and new adventures!

Thank you Mathilde for this enjoyable interview.

For more information, please visit website of Mathilde Becerra