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Watch Paraclimber Rachel Maia Get ‘Back to Real Rock’

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A gym climbing accident led to climber Rachel Maia losing her left leg below the knee. But she hasn’t let it hold her back from becoming an adaptive climber and a mom.

Ask Rachel Maia what she’s up to, and she’ll tell you she’s busy cultivating “grit.” She leaned on it to get through losing her leg in a climbing accident, drew from it to get back on the wall, and now she wants to pass it on to her young children.

If that sounds corny, watching Maia talk about it is somehow anything but. Throughout “Back to Real Rock,” the Whanganui-based adaptive climber transmits palpable resilience and dignity.

Long story short: at 16, Maia fell between the pads at the bouldering gym, and her heel punched through a duct-taped seam. Over the next 20 years, she endured surgery after surgery and “hurt, pain, suffering, and hate” to try to save the leg. Finally, she made the tough call to amputate it.

That she would get back on the wall was never a question. Nineteen days post-surgery, she checked back at the gym. After 5 months, she represented New Zealand at the 2019 Paraclimbing World Championships in France.

The adaptive climber took fourth in her category. The rest is history — one Maia doesn’t seem close to concluding.

Runtime: 19 minutes

On April 28, 2022, adaptive runner Jacky Hunt-Broersma set the women's world record for most marathons run on consecutive days — 102!; (photo/Jacky Hunt-Broersma)

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