The historic first medal event of Sport Climbing's big debut finally arrived: men's finals. The field was wide open with well-known campaigners like Ondra, Schubert and Narasaki up against young guns Alberto Ginés López (ESP) and Colin Duffy (USA). A knock-on effect from the qualification was that the bicep injury to Bassa Mawem caused him to withdraw, cutting the field to seven with Bassa's brother Mickael Mawem and Nathaniel Coleman (USA) making up the rest of the field. Bassa's withdrawal had a big impact on the speed round in particular, since he had been the fastest man in qualification.
In a nervy Speed final, yet more PBs were smashed, with Nathaniel Coleman bettering himself twice to leave with a PB of 6.21 seconds. His compatriot Colin Duffy made the first False Start of the event so far, pushing down the rankings to 7th or 8th place and giving Alberto Gines Lopez (ESP) a free pass to the next stage. Adam Ondra (CZE) was on the Speed form of his life, beating his PB twice and finally going sub-7 with a time of 6.86 seconds. He settled in 4th place - an unexpected 'bonus' of Bassa Mawem's absence - as Mickael narrowly beat him to the buzzer after slipping low down to take 3rd.
A USA-USA head-to-head saw Duffy and Coleman face off. Duffy pipped Coleman to 5th place after Coleman suffered a slip and fall. A shocking final race between favourite Tomoa Narasaki (JPN) and Alberto Ginés López (ESP) saw Narasaki slip low down and unexpectedly give away 1st place to the young 18-year-old Spaniard.
The Boulder round was a tough set with an easier, balancy B1 that brought six Tops by all but Ginés López. B2 was topped by Coleman alone, featuring a burly shoulder press and tricky toe catch finish. Ondra failed to reach the Zone, pushing him far down the field. The final Boulder - set in the form of a Japanese rising sun - caused skin issues in the heat and humidity. No Tops, and all climbers reached the Zone on the flash attempt, failing to separate the field. Ultimately, Coleman's Top on B2 proved crucial and placed him at the top of the leaderboard, with Mawem in 2nd and Narasaki in 3rd, with all to play for in Lead.
The tension was high at the start of the lead section. Four climbers had low scores coming into it: Mawem, Narasaki, Coleman and Ginés López. As a Lead specialist, Ginés López was a favourite. Ondra put in a sterling effort that got him within a couple of holds of the top, throwing down the gauntlet for the others. Ginés López fell just short of Ondra's highpoint. Duffy pushed the bar a little higher, but still didn't match Ondra. It all came down to Jakob Schubert. He couldn't win, but he could have a huge impact on the top three and bag himself a bronze if he topped out.
The tension was unbearable as he reached higher and higher, first passing Ginés López then Duffy. At that point Adam Ondra was in gold medal position, but Schubert hadn't finished and he pulled through for a smooth top-out, shuffling the order and making Alberto Ginés López of Spain the first-ever Olympic champion in sport climbing. Silver went to Nathaniel Coleman after a strong Boulder round and consistent performance, and an elusive bronze would ultimately hang around Schubert's neck.
The three athletes on the podium won a round each. Ginés Lopéz also became the youngest Spanish male athlete ever to win Gold at an Olympic Games.
Full report with analysis to come tomorrow...
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