|IFSC World Cup||Wins||Podiums|
Janja Garnbret (SLO) Age: 21
The GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). Hailing from the small but disproportionately-good-at-climbing country of Slovenia, Janja Garnbret was surrounded by IFSC heros and heroines and a band of talented contemporaries from a young age, when she started climbing at 7 years old. Garnbret has set so many records and won so many events in competition climbing that she has few accolades left to achieve – the title of Olympic Champion being the obvious next step. And you’d be a fool to bet against her: Garnbret has won back-to-back World Championships in Boulder and Combined in 2018 and 2019, and also reclaimed the Lead title in 2019; she’s the only athlete to have won a clean-sweep of all six Bouldering World Cup events in a season (2019) – in which she also topped qualification and semi-final rounds, completing 74/78 of the boulders put in front of her – and has won eight World Cup overall titles (across Lead, Boulder and Combined). In 2019, she did the triple of Lead, Boulder and Combined at the IFSC World Championships in Hachioji, where she deservedly earned her #1 seed ranking for the Tokyo Games.
Although she has won more World Cups and competed in more events in Lead, Garnbret’s rapid transition to Boulder events from 2017 onwards was staggering to watch. Garnbret’s gutsy, high-risk climbing style and broad movement repertoire has redefined modern dynamic climbing and attracted the interest of coaches, so much so that a move has been named after her – the “Janja”. German movement expert Udo Neumann commented: ‘I'm fascinated with how she keeps the mechanical costs of her movements low. She does this by making pendular movements, mixing and matching trajectories of her limbs to continually exchange potential and kinetic energy to optimally conserve energy. In addition, she typically has very little collisional energy losses. The passage between two movements happens smoothly without abrupt changes in the path of her body centre of mass.’ Like any champion, though, it’s not only her physical capabilities that land her on the top step of the podium; Garnbret is rarely rattled, and generally climbs with the mindset that she’s competing to be the best she can be, rather than battling against her competitors.
Hachioji World Championships: 1st Place
There was little doubt that Garnbret would reign supreme in Hachioji, especially after her domination of the Boulder circuit prior to the event. Her Lead shape was under question following some glitches in the first Lead World Cups in the summer, but by Hachioji she seemed to have recovered from the fatigue of blitzing the Boulder season and won an historic triple-Gold in Lead, Boulder and Combined.
Garnbret’s "worst-ever" World Cup result in Lead or Boulder is a 13th place in Kranj, 2019. She has only ever missed a Boulder World Cup final (top 6) once out of 17 events, and two Lead finals out of 31 events.
Garnbret’s results speak for themselves. It doesn’t take much convincing to put our money on her to become Sport Climbing’s first-ever Olympic Champion. Garnbret is a rare breed in that she is so consistent in two disciplines, making her a double-threat in Combined.