Adam Ondra, among the best sport climbers of his generation and one of the most widely recognized athletes from the field, has secured an invitation to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
He qualified at the top of the table at the Combined Qualifier held by the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) over November 28-December 1, 2019 in Toulouse, France. This qualification took him into the finals at the event. As far as the Olympics is concerned, the crux was the qualifying round with the top six scheduled to get Olympic invites. News reports said that with Japan already filling its slots via results at the Combined World Championships held earlier in Hachioji, the two Japanese climbers – Kokoro Fujii and Meichi Narasaki – who were among top qualifiers at Toulouse wouldn’t get Olympic invites and most likely instead, see their results considered internally by the Japanese team. This left Olympic invites for the remaining six climbers.
Ondra who represents Czech Republic, had earlier failed to get an invitation to the Olympics following his disqualification at the Combined IFSC Climbing World Championships at Hachioji, Japan, where in the sub category of lead climbing, he was found to have accidentally stepped on a bolt resulting in his score being whittled down. In the qualifying round at Toulouse, he placed first in lead climbing, second in bouldering and fourteenth in speed climbing. In the combined final, Ondra finished second ahead of Meichi Narasaki and behind Kokoro Fujii. Others qualifying at Toulouse for the 2020 Olympics, as per IFSC, were YuFei Pan (China), Alberto Gines Lopez (Spain), Jan Hojer (Germany), Bassa Mawem (France) and Nathaniel Coleman (USA) in the men’s category. Among women, the new names aboard from Toulouse are: Julia Chanourdie (France), Mia Krampl (Slovenia), Iuliia Kaplina (Russia), Kyra Condie (USA), Laura Rogora (Italy) and YiLing Song (China).
On November 30, Chinese news agency Xinhua had reported that Song should be getting her Olympic invite. The Chinese climber was placed ninth in the qualifying round. Xinhua based its conclusion on the fact that Japan’s Ai Mori who led the overall rankings and advanced to the eight-woman final together with compatriot Futaba Ito, who finished fifth, were both ineligible for Olympic invites given Japan already guaranteed full representation as the host of next year’s Olympics. Additionally, Lucka Rakovec of Slovenia, who placed second overall behind Mori in the qualifier at Toulouse, had already obtained an Olympic spot by finishing in the top seven at the world championships, Xinhua said. In its report dated December 1, on the women’s combined final results from Toulouse, IFSC has noted that it was a close battle between Slovenians, Lucka Rakovec and Mia Krampl.
At the time of writing, the names of those qualified post-Toulouse were yet to be added to IFSC’s confirmed list of athletes heading to Tokyo. IFSC has mentioned on its website that all qualification places are provisional until confirmed by each athlete’s National Olympic Committee (NOC). Formal invitations will be sent by the IFSC to the relevant NOCs within five days of the conclusion of the Combined Qualifier. The NOCs will then have two weeks to either confirm or decline the quota places.
Post Hachioji, those in the first list of qualified athletes (as available on the IFSC website; the list was titled: Sport Climbing’s First Olympic Qualified Athletes), were Janja Garnbret (Slovenia), Akiyo Noguchi (Japan), Shauna Coxsey (Great Britain), Aleksandra Miroslaw (Poland), Miho Nonaka (Japan), Petra Klinger (Switzerland) and Brooke Raboutou (USA) from the women’s category; Tomoa Narasaki (Japan), Jakob Schubert (Austria), Rishat Khaibullin (Kazakhstan), Kai Harada (Japan), Mickael Mawem (France), Alexander Megos (Germany) and Ludovico Fossali (Italy) from the men’s category. An updated list (dated November 11, 2019) available on the IFSC website also includes Sean McColl (Canada) and Jessica Pilz (Austria). Those qualified at Toulouse will join the above lot.
The final opportunity to qualify for the Olympics will be five IFSC Combined Continental Championships due to take place in 2020. The schedule as available on the IFSC website is – Africa, 1-3 May, Johannesburg (South Africa), Asia, 18-24 May, Morioka (Japan), Europe, 16-18 April, Moscow (Russia), Pan-Am, 27 February-1 March, Los Angeles (USA) and Oceania, 18-19 April, Sydney (Australia). Climber hoping to qualify should head to his / her respective continental championship.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will mark sport climbing’s debut at the Olympic Games. One of the biggest impacts of the move has been the introduction of combined climbing championships, wherein the best climber across the sport’s three disciplines – lead climbing, bouldering and speed climbing – emerges winner. Altogether 40 climbers – 20 men and 20 women – will compete at the Olympics.
(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai. For more on sport climbing’s selection process for the Olympics, please try this link: https://shyamgopan.com/2019/10/16/sport-climbing-phase-two-of-olympic-qualification-due-by-november-end/)