European Eye on Tokyo: Sport Climbing

With sport climbing making its Olympic debut in Tokyo, there were several premieres to be celebrated and records to be set. We review the events from a European point of view.

It was double history for Alberto Ginés López, as the 18-year-old was crowned first-ever Olympic champion in the men’s Combined event, becoming the youngest Spanish Olympic gold medallist in the process.

After winning the Speed final with a time of 6.42 seconds, Ginés López finished last in the Boulder round and dropped down the leader board. However, his fourth place in Lead gave him an overall score of 28.00 points and the edge in the medal fight.

"It's a dream come true," the teenager commented on his triumph. "I didn't expect it at all. I didn't expect to get into the final. A dream come true.

"I was doing some calculating, with the points, and then I decided not to get into that, that it wouldn't be good for me. I just decided to do as well as I could, and I thought 'If I do well, I do well, and if I don't, I don't.'"

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USA’s Nathaniel Coleman took silver on 30.00 points, while Austrian Jakob Schubert snatched bronze with 35.00 finishing one point ahead of local fan favourite, Tomoa Narasaki of Japan. Schubert was the last climber to come out in the Lead final and the only one to top the route to end the competition in suspenseful fashion. 

"In Combined, it's all about the multiplication, so first place means so much and it increases your chances for a medal. That's something I'm also really proud and happy about, not just this medal, but that I could climb so well, top the route, and show the world how cool our sport is," the lead specialist stated.

Golden Garnbret

The reigning Combined and Boulder world champion Janja Garnbret achieved an incredible four flashes in the Boulder qualification round, finished first overall in qualification and lived up to the expectations in Friday’s final.

The Slovenian superstar was fifth in the Speed final but was in a class of her own the rest of the way, claiming first spot in both Boulder and Lead to enter the history books as the first-ever Olympic champion in women’s Combined, with a final score of 5.00 points.

Following the heartbreak on Thursday, hosts Japan were able to host a medal party after all, with both Miho Nonaka and Akiyo Noguchi securing podium spots. Nonaka took silver with a score of 45.00 points, whilst Noguchi ended her sport climbing career with a bronze around her neck. The 32-year-old had the same points tally, 64.00, as Aleksandra Miroslaw of Poland, but prevailed thanks to her better rank in qualification. 

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Record setters

An Olympic debut comes with fresh Olympic records, with the speed records officially set following the conclusion of the qualification and final round, respectively. Bassa Mawem of France was the fastest in the men’s speed qualification with 5.45 seconds, a time that remained unrivalled in Tokyo. The 36-year-old did not compete in the final after suffering a biceps injury during the qualification round.

Miroslaw proved the fastest among the women, setting an Olympic record with 6.97 seconds in qualification and one-upping her performance in the speed final. With 6.84 seconds she not only bested her own Olympic record, the 27-year-old speed specialist also broke the previous world record of 6.96 seconds, which was held by Russian Iuliia Kaplina. 

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Relive all highlights from sport climbing’s thrilling Olympic premiere through the IFSC's coverage. Visit the Tokyo 2020 website for all official results from the Olympic Games.

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Sport Climbing