Sport Climbing Preview
Sport climbing will make its debut at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The International Olympic Committee added the sport during the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. 

Sport climbing takes the challenge of scaling steep ascents to a whole new level. Using a range of hand and foot holds of different shapes and sizes, climbers put their skills and strength into practice on a vertical wall. The wall may feature varying angles of either positive (known in climbing as a slab) or negative (steep, overhanging) sections.

Athletes will compete in the “combined” format which will feature all three sport climbing disciplines – bouldering, lead and speed – in one event with a total of six medals handed out to the sport’s first Olympic athletes. Each climber will compete in all three disciplines, and the final rankings will be determined by multiplying the placement in each discipline, with the athletes achieving the lowest scores winning medals.

In some disciplines, climbers attach safety ropes; however, no other equipment is permitted, and competitors must climb using only their bare hands and climbing shoes. The sport requires strength, flexibility and skill, together with careful advance planning: the first ever medalists will all possess this unique combination of physical and mental capability and decisiveness.

Speed climbing pits two climbers against each other in head-to-head competition. Both climbers are secured to safety ropes and attempt to scale a 15-meter high wall, set at an angle of 95 degrees, faster than their opponent on identical routes. Winning times for the men’s and women’s events tend to be around six to eight seconds. A false start results in instant disqualification.

In bouldering, athletes climb as many fixed routes as they can within four minutes, climbing on a 4-meter-high wall equipped with safety mats. The routes vary in difficulty and climbers are not permitted to practice climbing them in advance. When a climber grabs the final hold at the top of a route with both hands, they are deemed to have completed it. Climbers tackle the wall without safety ropes and can try a route again if they fall during their initial attempt. The walls used for bouldering present a range of challenges, with overhangs and some holds so small that they can only be held by the fingertips. Climbers must plan each move carefully, thinking about which hand and foot to place in the next holds, while constantly being aware of the time limit. The physical and mental dexterity required for success is extraordinary.

Lead involves athletes attempting to climb as high as they can on a wall measuring more than 15 meters in height within six minutes. The climbers use safety ropes and attach the rope to quickdraws (equipment that allows the rope to run freely while leading) along the route. When a climber attaches their rope to the top quickdraw, they have completed the climb. If a climber falls, the height (hold number) attained is recorded. There are no re-climbs. If two or more athletes complete the climb or reach exactly the same height, the fastest to do so is declared the winner. This is a demanding whole-body activity and dynamic climbing techniques are greatly important.

To prevent athletes from gaining an advantage from watching others scaling the bouldering and lead climbing walls before them, each climber is kept away from the climbing wall in “isolation” before their turn and given just a few minutes to examine the wall and routes prior to starting.

The Embodiment of the Olympic Motto: The Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius” – Latin for “faster, higher, stronger” – will be on full display as the Olympic combined format tests climbers across all three disciplines – speed (faster), bouldering (stronger) and lead (higher). To introduce this unique format to audiences around the world in advance of the Olympic Games, the International Federation of Sport Climbing has launched an official video encompassing all the rules and facts necessary to understand the event and enjoy each athlete’s performance to the fullest. Watch the video to learn more: IFSC Combined Format Explained

U.S. Sending a Full Team: Three years ago, some doubted the U.S. could field an Olympic climber, given the limited number of spots available and the high level of international competition climbing. Now a full team of two men and two women will represent Team USA as the sport makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo. The U.S. is the only nation outside of the host country Japan to field a full team at this time.

Balance: Sport climbing exemplifies gender equality. The sport demands balance, flexibility, strength and problem solving so female athletes consistently excel during competitions, astonishing and inspiring millions of fans. Men and women will be equally represented in Tokyo with twenty climbers each. 
Sophomore Surprise: Sixteen-year-old high school sophomore Colin Duffy surprised many by making the U.S. Olympic Team during his first year on the adult competition circuit. How high can Duffy – a two-time youth world champion – climb on the world’s biggest stage? 

Sophomore Sunrise: Sixteen-year-old high school sophomore Colin Duffy surprised many by making the U.S. Olympic Team during his first year on the adult competition circuit. How high can Duffy - a two-time youth world champion - climb on the world's biggest stage?

The U.S. Olympic Climbing Team was completed on March 1, 2020 after the Pan-American Continental Championships. A full team of two men and two women will represent Team USA as the sport makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

Nathaniel Coleman (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Nathaniel is a member on the national team and has represented the U.S. at world cup competitions since 2015. His best finishes include a fifth-place performance at the 2015 IFSC World Youth Championships in Arco, Italy, as well as an eighth-place finish at the 2019 bouldering world cup event in Vail, Colorado. Nathaniel qualified at the 2019 IFSC Combined Qualifier Toulouse.

Kyra Condie (Shoreview, Minnesota)
A University of Minnesota alumna, Condie began climbing at 11 years old. She was diagnosed with severe, idiopathic scoliosis as a child, undergoing spinal fusion surgery in March 2010 to correct her 70-degree curvature. Following her complete recovery, Condie has become a bouldering world cup finalist and a regular competitor at professional events around the country. She is a member of the USA Climbing National Team. Kyra qualified at the 2019 IFSC Combined Qualifier Toulouse.

Colin Duffy (Broomfield, Colorado) 
Sixteen-year-old Colin is the youngest member of the Team and this is his first year competing on the adult climbing circuit. He is a former two-time Youth World Champion in lead climbing. Colin qualified at the 2020 IFSC Pan American Championships Los Angeles.

Brooke Raboutou (Boulder, Colorado)
Brooke is the daughter of former climbing world cup champions Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou and Didier Raboutou. She began climbing at age one and became the youngest person in the world to climb 5.14b, at age 11. She was the first U.S. climber ever to qualify for an Olympic Games, securing her spot at the 2019 IFSC Climbing World Championships Hachioji.

Olympic qualification kicked off at the IFSC Combined World Championships from Aug. 20-21, 2019, in Hachioji, Japan. The 20 top-ranked competitors at the end of the world championships moved on to the combined qualification round. Eight athletes then advanced to the finals, with the top-seven finishers receiving an invitation to the Tokyo Games, respecting the maximum quota per gender per country. At this event, Brooke Raboutou became the first U.S. climber ever to qualify for an Olympic Games, 

The Olympic Qualification Event took place Nov. 28-30, 2019, in Toulouse, France. The top 20 athletes in the IFSC combined world ranking, excluding those who qualified through the world championships, received an invitation to the event. Eight athletes advanced to the final round of competition with the top six receiving an invitation to the Tokyo Games. At this event, Nathaniel Coleman became the first American man to qualify for an Olympic Games, with Kyra Condie also clinching a spot on the women’s side. 

The Pan-American Continental Championships were the final opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo Games. Los Angeles served as host of the event from Feb. 27-March 1, 2020. The highest-placing athlete at the event in the men’s and women’s competitions received an invitation to the Tokyo Games, with 16-year-old Colin Duffy securing the final American spot.

The four highest-ranked competitors for each gender in the national rankings were named to the U.S. Overall National Team and were eligible to attend the Olympic qualification events, where they could qualify by name for the Olympic Games. The U.S. overall ranking is based on the results from the 2019 USA Climbing National Championship events and performances at major IFSC international competitions.

IFSC Combined World Championships Aug. 20-21, 2019 (Hachioji, Japan)
Olympic Qualifying Event Nov. 28-30, 2019 (Toulouse, France)
Pan-American Continental Championships Feb. 27-March 1, 2020 (Los Angeles, CA)