Home > Indoor Climbing

Highlights from Olympic Sport Climbing in Tokyo

Sport Climbing is over at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and here are a few of the many amazing moments

Photo by: Leo Zhukov of Akiyo Noguchi on her way to bronze

The first-ever Olympic Sport Climbing competition is over, and what a wild couple of days it was. Four action-packed rounds of speed, lead and bouldering left us with six athletes going home with medals, and 40 climbers who can now call themselves Olympians.

There was triumph and upsets, records broken and injuries, great routes and boulders, not so great commentating, and there was a lot of emotion. As predicted, Janja Garnbret won gold for women, and not as predicted, Alberto Ginés López took top spot for men.

There’s a lot of lessons to be learned from Sport Climbing at Tokyo 2020, but for now, let’s celebrate some memorable moments. You can rewatch all the rounds here. Below are 10 highlights from qualifications and finals.

First Climbers Out

It’s been a long time coming, but Sport Climbing is finally an Olympic sport. That’s why Chris Cosser and Jongwon Chon stepping onto the stage as the first-ever climbers to compete at the Olympics was such a highlight. Men’s speed was the first event of the week. There’s no going back now.

Chris Cosser and Jongwon Chon are first climbers out

Canadian Speed Records

Canada was represented by B.C. climbers Alannah Yip and Sean McColl, who finished 14th and 17th respectively. Both posted personal bests and Canadian records in speed, with Yip climbing in 7.99 second and McColl in 6.93 seconds. There’s no word yet whether Yip or McColl are hoping to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics in three years, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they go for it.

New Women’s Speed Record

Polish climber Aleksandra Miroslaw contributed to the great show in women’s finals by breaking the speed climbing world record. The 27-year-old shed 0.12 seconds off the previous women’s world record with her 6.84-second climb at Aomi Urban Sports Park. She finished in fourth overall.

Aleksandra Mirolaw after setting the new record. Photo by Dimitris Tosidis

Nathaniel Coleman Tops Boulder Two

Nathaniel Coleman wasn’t an underdog heading into the Olympics, but he wasn’t one of the climbers most people anticipated to win a medal. He ended up with silver, thanks largely to being the only climber to top men’s second boulder. With less than two minutes to go, he made a dynamic move to the final 11-centimetre-long half-pad hold and stuck it thanks to a sneaky toe-hook he found. The other competitors only topped one boulder, except Ginés López who didn’t top any.

Nathaniel Coleman on men’s boulder two

Jakob Schubert’s Podium Reaction

When Jakob Schubert started up the finals lead wall, Adam Ondra had the high-point and would’ve taken home gold if Schubert didn’t pass it. But Schubert did pass it, and topped out. After being lowered and waving to the audience, his coaching team told him that he won bronze, and his ensuing celebration was electric. He looked into the camera and gave a medal-worthy scream of stoke. Unfortunately for Adam Ondra, arguably the world’s best rock climber, he was bumped to sixth and Alberto Ginés López took gold.

Jakob Schubert celebrates his podium

Janja Garnbret Wins Finals Lead

Janja Garnbret was the favourite to win gold at the Olympics, with a winning competition history unmatched by any other climber currently on the World Cup circuit. However, despite winning bouldering in qualifiers, she placed fourth in lead, which left many wondering if she’d struggle again in lead finals. However, she absolutely dominated and earned her gold.

Janja Garnbret in Lead Finals

Akiyo Noguchi Says Goodbye with Bronze

Team Japan’s Miho Nonaka and Akiyo Noguchi took silver and bronze in front of their home crowd. It was a special moment, and the historical importance wasn’t lost on anyone. After 17 years of World Cup climbing and dozens of podiums, Noguchi ended her legendary career by medalling one last time. Fellow top competitor Shauna Coxsey, who didn’t advance to finals, has also announced this will be her last competition. We say goodbye to some of climbing’s most legendary competitors.

Lead photo: Leo Zhukov of Akiyo Noguchi on her way to bronze