Sport climbing is a heady mix of strength, speed, precision and daring that makes for a visually-arresting spectacle that is sure to wow the crowds when it makes its debut at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“Climbing is an instinct. It is one of the basic motor skills of human beings,” said Marco Maria Scolaris, President of the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC). “It is an instinct we sometimes lose because we don’t need to climb a tree or a rope in order to survive, to escape wild animals, like it was thousands of years ago. But it is something everybody has inside.”
And in Tokyo the very best exponents of this innate art will compete for an Olympic medal, for the very first time. Three disciplines – lead, speed and bouldering – have been combined into one competition for sport climbing’s Olympic debut.
Athletes will scramble up a man-made, 15m wall in around six seconds in speed climbing, before showcasing immense strength, balance and technique as they defy gravity and free climb short, impossible looking routes in bouldering. Thirdly, the climbers will have their endurance and ability to identify the optimum lines tested by a 15-18m harnessed ascent, pock-marked by fearsome overhangs, in lead climbing.
“Climbing is a combination of body and mind. We are moving in a vertical dimension, something that other sports don’t do,” Scolaris said. “You need to be very fit. You need coordination. You need strength and you need the capacity to read the different holds you see on the rock.”
Planted firmly in the adrenaline-fuelled, high-octane, youth-orientated category, sport climbing has proudly taken its place alongside other Olympic newcomers, such as skateboarding, surfing and BMX.
An invitation to exhibit the best of the sport at the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014 played a pivotal role in the sport’s recognition.
This reaction to the sport, coupled with the arrival, in 2014, of…