Everything you Need to Know About the New Olympic Sport: Sport Climbing

Back in 2021, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics introduced a new sport to the roster, Olympic Sport Climbing. Due to its postponing due to the pandemic and its much criticism from the climbing community, this sport has had a rough debut. Despite this, the event continued on and we have our winners. How was Sport Climbing…

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Back in 2021, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics introduced a new sport to the roster, Olympic Sport Climbing. Due to its postponing due to the pandemic and its much criticism from the climbing community, this sport has had a rough debut. Despite this, the event continued on and we have our winners.

How was Sport Climbing Formatted in the Tokyo Olympics?

In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Sport Climbing was divided into 3 categories: lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering.

In the lead climbing segment of the games, climbers are given six minutes to study their routes. Athletes then ascend a wall over 15 meters (~49 feet) tall. Climbers are equipped with a harness and rope that they fasten to fixtures along the route. Every hold that the climber completes earns them one point. Climbers are only given one attempt. The athlete with the highest score wins.

In the speed climbing segment of the games, two climbers scale a 15 meter (~49 foot) tall, 5-degree inclined wall as quickly as they are able. Auto-belays are used to ensure the safety of the climber. This is done in heats until there is a winner.

Olympic Sport Climbing
2020 Tokyo Olympics

In the bouldering segment of the games, athletes climb boulder problems on 3-5 meter (~10 to ~16 foot) walls. Climbers may not see the routes before their turn in order to avoid giving any competitors an unfair advantage. Climbers are graded on how many boulders they can top out as well as how many zones they can reach.

You can learn more about the disciples of climbing outside of the Olympics when you read our article “What are the Types of Rock Climbing?“.

How Were Winners Chosen in the Sport Climbing Event in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics Sport Climbing Winners were chosen by multiplying the athletes placing in each of the events. The lowest score is the winner.

For example, lets say that Athlete A got first in lead climbing, second in speed climbing and third in bouldering and Athlete B got second in lead climbing, third in speed climbing and third Bouldering. Athlete A would win because they only had six points while Athlete B has 18.

Who won Sport Climbing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?

In the men’s division, the gold medal in Olympic Sport Climbing went to Alberto Gines Lopes (Spain), the silver medal went to Nathaniel Coleman (United States) and the bronze medal went to Jakob Schubert (Austria).

In the women’s division, the gold medal went to Janja Garnbret (Slovenia), the silver medal went to Miho Nonaka (Japan) and the bronze medal went to Akiyo Noguchi (Japan).

What Was Wrong with Climbing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?

Many climbers and fans criticized the formatting of the Olympic Sport Climbing event because if combined very different disciplines of climbing. Fans and athletes alike felt as though this format awarded those who were average in all disciplines rather than those who excelled in one.

It has been rumored that in the 2024 Olympic Games, these disciplines will be separated in order to better evaluate the skills of these climbers.

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