An American teenager and an Iranian inspiration meet in Stuttgart to realize their dreams.

This year there has been an international buildup in preparation for the adidas ROCKSTARS 2019. Grassroot events called “Ticket to Rockstars” have been held in 2019 in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, Berlin and Zurich. 21 events in three continents saw over 5,000 participants, 29 of which will now participate in the T2R Finals in Stuttgart, Germany. The top-three from this competition will then compete in the main event semifinals on Saturday morning.

The athletes, many of them teenagers, will spend the weekend in the official athlete hotel along with their parents, the pros and even olympians in what is a booming sport around the world. 

Some of the 29 men and women who have worked their way into the TR2 Finals have been here before and know what it takes to be a ROCKSTAR. Amelie Kuehne (GER), for example, is back again after winning her second-straight ticket at the “Women’s Only” event held on September 11th in Stuttgart. 

Others will be competing in the Porsche-Arena for the first time and a few to keep an eye on are: Oriane Bertone (FRA) the youngest climber ever to master a 8B+ problem, Kylie Cullen (USA) - who recently beat Alex Puccio, a 2017 ROCKSTAR and 2018 runner up - and Léo Favot (FRA) winner of the European Youth Cup.  

Kylie traveled from Los Angeles with her father, Brian and the two of them have taken in the sites for almost a week all the while attempting to get past their jet lag. 

“It has been pretty hard getting to sleep at the right times,” Kylie said at the amateur reception and dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn directly across from the Porsche-arena. “It’s a totally different place over here but it’s really exciting.”

The young girl from L.A is fresh off a victory against Alex Puccio the 30-year-old veteran climber who is twice the age of the youngster Kylie. The upstart American is excited but nervous about what Friday will bring:

“I’ve never competed internationally before and so this is really exciting. I would feel happy if I really know I gave it my best. I would love to make it to the semifinals but most important is to have fun and give it my all.”

She is joined in Friday morning’s competition by someone who could hardly be more different than the young lady from California besides their common love for the sport of climbing.

Pouya Shafienejad (IRI) has had to deal with Visa difficulties, learning a new language and competing in nearly one competition per week, all while spending an incredible eight hours per day in a climbing gym. 

“I’ve worked very hard to get here,” Pouya explained through an interpreter. “I take this very seriously and I think that I can finish number one tomorrow. I’m very nervous but I know that all of my work must be for something. I will work very hard tomorrow.”

Pouya’s story is fascinating and truly inspiring. Just a few years ago he weighed 100 kilograms (220 lbs) and was pointed out by his trainer as being “too fat to do anything”. This quip pushed him to be better and in the next years he lost 35 kilos (80 lbs) and now has practically zero body fat and is competing in the top bouldering competitions in Europe.

Pouya and Kylie are perfect examples of what the Ticket to Rockstars is all about: giving young, budding athletes a chance to compete in bouldering  and changing lives through sports. 

Many of the Ticket to Rockstar winners have traveled with their families and for some it was their first time ever even stepping foot in an airplane. Many of them are young teenagers who will be put in a high-pressure situation against world-class competition and with a crowd cheering at their back. No doubt there will be smiles and there will likely be tears but in many ways these youthful competitors have already won in earning a chance to compete in the TR2 Finals through their hard work and determination. Still, as true competitors they surely won’t be completely happy with anything short of being crowned as the 2019 ROCKSTARS and who knows, they just might pull it off. 



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