Ngunguru's Monique Gray climbed her way into the medals and the history books at the AIMS Games.

The 11-year-old Ngunguru School student won the Year 7 girls rock climbing competition at the massive sporting tournament in Tauranga last week.

It was the first time rock climbing had been included in the games, and it was the first time Ngunguru School had ever competed in the AIMS Games, the biggest sporting event for 11-13 year olds in New Zealand.

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What makes Monique's win more remarkable is that she trains on a climbing wall built in her family's garage, because the local climbing wall at Kensington Stadium is closed as there are no qualified instructors.

Mum Heidi Gray said Monique was "very chuffed" with her win. However, she didn't have long to linger on it, with her attention switching to a national event this weekend.

"She's a very strong climber, and a very strong mind. She's pushing herself all the time."

Monique Gray can create new routes on the climbing wall in her garage by rearranging the holds. Photo / John Stone
Monique Gray can create new routes on the climbing wall in her garage by rearranging the holds. Photo / John Stone

Heidi was "pretty confident" heading into the AIMS Games, as generally people who are good at climbing would have competed on the national circuit.

However she said there were a couple of "wild cards" who performed really well in the speed climbing section.

The AIMS Games competition was made up of three divisions - top rope, bouldering and speed.

Monique has been rock climbing since she was about 6 as a result of loving to climb trees.

"We got sick of her climbing to the tallest branches and being unsafe."

They decided to take her to a controlled environment instead.


"She took to it like a fish to water."

Monique started competing in tournaments when she was 7.

She won the under 12 division on last year's national circuit and is competing in the under 14 division this year.

The family moved from Rotorua to Ngunguru almost three years ago. Gray said shortly after they moved, the climbing wall in Kensington Stadium closed for the Christmas holidays and had not reopened.

So dad Brett built the wall in the garage over a matter of weeks.

"We wanted to be able to support her in her training and give her somewhere to train," Heidi said.

The 3.5m wide wall goes up on a slight angle from the floor to the base of the ceiling, then straight out horizontally for three metres, then angles back up to the top of the roof. It has a few different, rearrangeable holds.

"As she gets used to a route, she takes them [the holds] off and sets herself a new route. She's always building new climbs by rearranging the holds."

A year ago, she started training friend Stan Parker in the garage so she could have a training buddy.

He also competed at the AIMS Games, where he finished 12th in the Year 7 boys.

Other top Northland results from the AIMS Games:
-Bella Earl (Parua Bay School) first in Year 8 girls cross country
-Nathaniel Aoina (Whangārei Intermediate School) second in open junior advanced mens tumbling
-Sofia Kite (Pompallier Catholic College) third in open junior women aerobics
-Grace Christey (Dargaville Intermediate School) first in open junior advanced womens aerobics
-Kamo Intermediate Boys hockey team, fifth equal
-Kamo Intermediate Girls hockey team, first
-Matauri Bay School boys rugby sevens, third
-Whangārei Intermediate School boys rugby sevens team, fourth
-Kamo Intermediate School boys rugby sevens team, ninth
-Kaikohe Intermediate School girls rugby sevens team, fourth
-Kamo Intermediate School girls rugby sevens team, fifth
-Freddie Jamson (Parua Bay School) first in squash boys singles
-Campbell Griffin (Parua Bay School) third in squash boys singles
-Flynn Venmore (Parua Bay School) fourth in squash boys singles
-Freddie Jameson and Campbell Griffin (Parua Bay School) first in boys squash team
-Flynn Venmore and Luca Smith (Parua Bay School) second in boys squash team
-Parua Bay School, overall top school boys squash
-Olivia Rhodes (Parua Bay School) third in squash girls singles
-Olivia Rhodes and Ellie Petty (Parua Bay School) second in girls squash team
-Takaimaania Ngata-Henare (Huanui College) second in table tennis girls singles

For a full list of results go to: