Olympic climbing is a form of competitive climbing that was first introduced as a medal sport at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The event will feature three disciplines: lead, speed, and bouldering.
Lead climbing is a discipline in which competitors ascend a route on a wall that is typically between 12 and 25 metres high, using only their hands and feet. They must clip quickdraws (metal carabiners connected by a short length of rope) to the anchors along the way to secure their progress.
Speed climbing is a discipline in which two competitors race up a set route as quickly as possible. The fastest time wins.
Bouldering is a discipline in which competitors climb short (usually 4-6 metre) walls without the use of ropes or harnesses. They must reach the top of each problem and start from a standing position (no jumping, kipping, etc.).
The 2020 Summer Olympic games will mark the first time climbing is included as an official sport in an international multi-sport event. Although it might seem like a far-off dream to get to watch our beloved sport on prime-time television, many climbers around the world are already training for this Olympics (assuming they haven’t found climbing after watching). The International Olympic Committee has yet to announce how much prize money competitors will be awarded in Tokyo but we can assume that most athletes have signed up for some comps in 2016 with dreams of being in Japan in four years.
How to Qualify for Olympic climbing?
The 2020 Olympic climbing format is still in the works and it is unclear what the qualifying process will look like. With that said, we can make some guesses as to how athletes will be selected. There are three potential ways that athletes could qualify for the Olympics:
1. Through participation in World Cup events. The best climbers in the world compete in these events and the top 20% of finishers at each event would automatically qualify for the Olympics. This would include the top 3 finishers in each discipline (lead, speed, bouldering).
2. Win a national championship. Climbers who win their country’s national championship would automatically qualify for the Olympics. This would include the best climber from each country, regardless of whether or not they earned their spot through the World Cup.
3. Win a worldwide competition. Climbers who win the World Championships would automatically qualify for the Olympics. This would include the best climber from each country, regardless of whether or not they earned their spot through the World Cup or national championship route.
What are the precautions climbers should take?
Climbers should take the next few months to begin training for climbing at a wide range of angles and holds. Climbing in all three disciplines (lead, speed, bouldering) will be required so climbers should train to be strong and proficient in all three areas. Many climbing gyms have begun to alter their walls with different angle changes and large foam blocks built into the wall. This makes training much more accessible for everyone!
Finally, it is important that climbers remain healthy by eating well and sleeping enough. Be aware of injury symptoms such as pain, inflammation/redness, and feeling unstable while performing certain movements. Stay safe!