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Ginés López wins Sport Climbing's Historic First Olympic Gold Medal

© Jon Glassberg / Louder Than 11

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.

Alberto Ginéz Lopéz tops the final of the speed ahead of favourite Tomoa Narasaki  © Jon Glassberg / Louder Than 11
Alberto Ginéz Lopéz tops the final of the speed ahead of favourite Tomoa Narasaki
© Jon Glassberg / Louder Than 11

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. 

Nathaniel Coleman was the only one to top problem 2 in the bouldering - a great performance.  © Jon Glassberg / Louder Than 11
Nathaniel Coleman was the only one to top problem 2 in the bouldering - a great performance.
© Jon Glassberg / Louder Than 11

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.

Jakob Schubert proved his class with a smooth top of the lead route getting himself a bronze.  © Jon Glassberg / Louder Than 11
Jakob Schubert proved his class with a smooth top of the lead route getting himself a bronze.
© Jon Glassberg / Louder Than 11

Schubert's joy at bronze  © Jon Glassberg / Louder Than 11
Schubert's joy at bronze
© Jon Glassberg / Louder Than 11

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. 

Final standings  © UKC
Final standings
© UKC

Full report with analysis to come tomorrow...

Check back through our live tweet update page from today.


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Brilliant from Schubert on the lead wall. The performance of the day?

5 Aug

A few thoughts.

For climbing to be a success at the Olympics it has to capture the general public's imagination. A sport does this by being easy to quickly grasp what is going on for general viewers- i.e. what each athlete needs to do to beat their competitors, showcasing and rewarding prowess and finally and most crucially creating drama with "Olympic" moments. I feel this first Olympic go for climbing so far has delivered on some of those points but not on others.

On the positive side there was plenty of drama with the podium only decided by the last go of the last competitor in many ways that was the perfect competition. There was also a real epic "Olympic" moment with Schubert's final climb being the only one to top out and taking him from last place to the podium. There have also been other moments where the athletes skills/prowess have been showcased such as Coleman's amazing finish to B2 in the bouldering and the near world record in the women's speed qualifying.

Another positive was both the speed and the lead looked great on tele - and you could tell from the excitement of the non climbing commentator, they were likely to be "got" by the general public.

What has been less successful has been the complexity and lack of logic of the scoring system. Gines Lopez wins the speed by being the 5th (out 8) fastest athlete! Which then sets him up to win the whole event despite not topping a single boulder and coming middle of the pack in lead! The winner should self evidently be the outstanding climber on the day - it really didn't feel like that today to me watching.

Secondly the format of the multiplied rankings made it really hard to follow who needed what to win. The commentators were often struggling to make sense of it. It then led to situations such as Ondra going from Gold to second last when one climber climbed 2 holds higher than him. Not to mention the issues created by leaving an empty slot in the final for the injured climber. I know this happens in athletics with empty lanes but this doesn't materially affect the results. Here it gave Ondra an unfair advantage in the speed and affected the whole scoring situation throughout the competition.

It's exciting to see climbing in the Olympics and I know things are being changed format-wise for Paris so hopefully the confusing bits can be ironed out. At the moment I'd give climbing a bronze but the women's event is still to come tomorrow so maybe the show can move up the podium. I'm sure there will be plenty more drama and Olympic moments.

5 Aug

Sorry just seen there is a whole long thread discussing all these points. At least I'm not alone in having such mixed feelings about it all.

5 Aug

Spot on, couldn’t agree more. It certainly makes for entertaining and nail-biting watching for the lay-public but you can see how uneasy the format makes the athletes feel - Ondra very glum and Ginés-Lopéz certainly looked shocked by his result; I wonder if part of that shock was a feeling that he hadn’t done enough for the win for the reasons you mentioned. For the combined format to really work speed should be based solely on fastest time not head-to-head. Definitely think the separation in 2024 will be a far fairer competition but won’t be quite as thrilling for the public I imagine!

6 Aug

Shame, a very odd contest. Winner won because of a speed 'climb' and even he look confused when he did this.

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