Emma Hunt after competing in the women's speed climbing finals at the 2022 IFSC World Cup on May 27, 2022 in Salt Lake City.
Keith Hunt went and tried a portable rock-climbing wall one day and enjoyed it. So, he found a gym near his Woodstock, Georgia, home that had one.
Tagging along with dad to that gym to climb the wall was then 5-year-old Emma.
“We all started going, and it grew from there,” Emma said.
Two years later at 7, she joined a team and “just loved it.” She started competing at 8, and the rest is history.
Now, 19 years old, Hunt has taken her climbing skills to the world stage and has gotten extremely fast — record-breaking fast.
Hunt competes primarily in speed climbing, an event in which the athletes race up the wall like spiders in an exciting head-to-head format. In May, at the IFSC World Cup in Salt Lake City, Hunt broke and re-broke the U.S. record in her qualifying round, ultimately hitting the button in 7.05 seconds. Currently, the world record for a female is 6.53, a mark that Hunt is hunting for.
“At this stage it is refining my beta, which is the path we take up the wall,” Hunt said about chasing the world record. “Everyone has more or less an individual beta. I think refining my beta and just more training in general and refining everything will make me drop some time.”
In her most recent competition at the World Games on July 14 in Birmingham, Alabama, Hunt took first in the women’s speed competition, which was bracket-style.
Hunt qualified with a time of 7.31 but then took first place overall when she hit the button at 7.24 in the final, beating out Poland’s Natalia Kałucka.
“As soon as I saw the timer was green, I knew,” Hunt said. “It was so exciting and kind of relieving. It was a long day. We had a weather delay and we got pushed back several hours. It was a nice deep breath.”
The first-place finish is the first of this season for Hunt, but it’s her third top-three finish of the year after taking second at the world cup in Seoul and second at the Salt Lake City, both in May. She’s coming off a seventh-place finish at last year’s world championships.