Climbing at the Tokyo Olympics: Three Events in One Trivialises a Unique Sport, by @cynisca

Climbing will enter the Olympics for the first time in 2020 in Tokyo, Japan but with three separate sub sports lumped together it begs the question is all climbing just climbing that climbers will be automatically good at.

Let's start with the straight forward answer, No and it trivialises what is a very unique and skill based set of sports.

I'd compare this idea to lumping the 100m sprint, 110m hurdles and 800m event together. They are totally different types of running and having one athlete who is able to compete successfully in all three has never been done before.

gettyimages-1140860491-2048x2048.jpg Source - Getty Images - Shauna Coxsey - ISFC Boulder World Cup Meiringen 2019 - British hopeful and World Bouldering Champion 2016 and 17 Shauna Coxsey is attempting to bridge the gap between her bouldering experience and lead/speed climbing experience in an attempt to win gold in Tokyo

When it comes to climbing vs bouldering, bouldering routes usually top out at 4 to 4.5m where as lead climbing routes in Tokyo will go higher than 15m (more than three times as long as bouldering). So the lead climbing (done with a rope) will require a lot more stamina with the forearms and legs than bouldering. Likewise bouldering will require more power to compete in than lead climbing as the moves tend to be more explosive moving from one hand and foot hold to the next.

If we then consider speed climbing well this is almost purely technique and coordination mixed with some power.

Ideally climbing in Tokyo would have been split into three separate events or at a minimum two and excluding the speed climbing.

I think climbing more than some other sports deserves more medals because it's more traditionally in the spirit of the original Olympic games. Climbing is a more body only based sport with little in the way of additional equipment, especially bouldering.

Some of the more questionable sports that have made it into the games could be removed to make way for those that fit with the Olympics main theme rather than the event becoming a monster which eventually swallows up anything that is a sport such as:

Trampoline Table Tennis Tennis (yes I am a big tennis fan but don't believe it has a home in the olympics) Equestrian Modern Pentathlon Handball (my favourite no no) Shooting Archery Fencing

Coming at this article from a native angle, I have been following British climbing athlete Shauna Coxsey in her preparations to compete for team GB. She has had to train even harder than ever before in competitions to make up for her lack of competitive experience in lead and speed climbing. Of course she isn't the only one having to make the awkward adjustment, a whole host of boulderers and lead climbers have had to diversify their training to give themselves a chance in Tokyo.

Shauna's competition experience is purely in bouldering where in 2016 and 2017 she was crown World Champion. She has never competed in Lead or Speed climbing events before as an adult but did so briefly as a youngster.

It's going to be very interesting to see who can make the most effective transition from one type of climbing to the other in order to grab gold, silver or bronze in just one event in Tokyo. Climbers will be desperate to snatch one of the medals given its the first time the sport has ever appeared in the Olympic games and there will be uncertainty as to whether it will survive beyond next year.

I am hoping future Olympic games will not only keep the event but separate it out into Leading Climbing and Bouldering as both these events deserve their own competitors and medals. As an amateur climber I'd love to see the sport go a little more main stream.

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