Slovenian Janja Garnbret wins first women’s climbing gold medal at Tokyo Olympics
TOKYO – Slovenian Janja Garnbret lived up to her reputation as the world’s best climber, dominating the Tokyo Games to win the sport’s first female gold medal at the Olympics.
Garnbert, 22, was fifth in the sprint discipline, his weakest event, then overcame two of the three “problems” to win as a bloc. The 22-year-old capped a sweltering night at Aomi Urban Sports Park by reaching 37 catches. to win the lead and win the gold.
The six-time world champion finished with five points – her total arrivals multiplied together – to beat Japan’s Miho Nonaka by 31 points.
Japan’s Akiyo Noguchi collected 48 points to win bronze.
The inclusion of speed in the Olympic beginnings of rock climbing was rejected by most of the competitive climbing community.
The IOC is only awarding two medals to Tokyo, one for each gender, and wanted something quick to grab the attention of viewers. The decision did not go well as speed is a specialty discipline and including it in the Olympic program was like asking marathoners to also run a sprint if they want to win a medal.
The theory before Tokyo was that the best climbers and boulder climbers would have the best chance of winning either of these two disciplines to compensate for a low finish speed.
Alberto Gines Lopez threw that thought on the wall, securing his speedy victory for the gold medal in the men. He also proved successful in the other two disciplines, finishing seventh in the lead and fourth overall.
Adam Ondra, considered the best male climber in the world, finished fifth of seven sprint climbers and finished sixth overall.
Garnbret looks a lot like Ondra in that speed is his weakest discipline, but actually had a decent speed finish in the Final, winning two races to take fifth place.
Then she showed why she is considered the best climber in the world.
With a puzzle-solving mind and an athletic ability to put pieces together, she has won six world championships since 2016. She was the first woman to win two disciplines at a world championship, in 2018 and had a perfect 2019 World Cup season, winning all six bouldering events.
Once in Tokyo, she made the Olympic bouldering “problems” look like playing field equipment in qualifying, passing all four in one pass.
Determined not to show up again, the lane markers went evil for the finals, setting up three issues that sent the climbers like, well, rocks.
She needs four attempts, but completed the first block and “flashed” the second, passing it in one try. The third problem was too much for even Garnbret, but winning the block put her at the top of the overall standings.
Garnbret grabbed two more catches than anyone else to win the lead and prove, once again, that she is the queen of the artificial wall.