As Shauna Coxsey and Iuliia Kaplina threw their bodies up a 15-metre vertical wall as fast as they possibly could, それらの違いはすぐに明らかになりました. Kaplina is the world record holder at speed climbing. Coxsey is, 上手, not a speed climber at all. Kaplina immediately separated herself from her British rival, but then as she neared the top, she slipped. By the time she returned to the ground, she was weeping.
While the announcer at Aomi Urban Sports Park tried to comfort Kaplina by pointing out to the crowd of country delegations and volunteers that she was still in fifth place after her first attempt, she knew the truth. Such is her speciality in speed, in this strange combination of three distinct climbing sports under one roof, Kaplina almost needed to be perfect due to her vulnerability on the other two events.
With just one medal granted for climbing in Tokyo 2020, speed, bouldering and lead were merged as one sport. The combination of speed climbing with the other two categories has been controversial, with the different events requiring markedly different skillsets.
“The format is not ideal,” said Coxsey. “As an athlete, I think it’s pretty risky on your body. It’s intense. It’s almost impossible to train all the aspects of the combined in a good way, anyway.”
だが, as Coxsey also noted, as a spectator sport it worked. Throughout Wednesday evening, the debut of women’s sport climbing played out like a festival into the night. As a revolving door of climbers took to the stage, music blared out across the stadium. The unique tension that each event brings was combined.
The speed climbing, in which the athletes simply flit up the wall as fast as they can, is seven to eight seconds of fast-pumping adrenaline. With bouldering, in which the competitors solve climbing problems in the least amount of attempts, the countless falls make the payoff of a successful climb extremely satisfying. Lead, a high-endurance climb, is growing tension throughout.
Women’s climbing these days is often defined by the greatness of Janja Garnbret, a 22-year-old from Slovenia who dominates all in her path and is widely considered the best female climber of her time. Garnbret says that her nerves were unusually pronounced under Olympic pressure which affected her during the speed portion. She went to the locker room, cried out her frustration and then returned in a zen-like mode.
What Garnbret produced during the bouldering round was one of the single most impressive athletic performances of the Games so far. While her peers struggled through the four bouldering problems, she completed each one at the first attempt with the ease of someone strolling up stairs. Asked what her response to Olympic stress taught her, she laughed. “That I have a pretty good mind.” she said.
The day ended with a departure. Coxsey, the most successful British climber and one of the sport’s most prominent ambassadors, has had a nightmare since she qualified for the Olympics in 2019 by winning bronze medals in the combined and bouldering events.
She has been plagued by injuries, from knee and wrist surgeries within a week of each other last year to a chronic back injury. She had planned to finish her career after the Olympics, but for so long she was not sure if she would even make it there.
After finishing in a respectable 10th place after a solid outing in the bouldering, her speciality, Coxsey talked about her back injury, which she says brings her constant pain.
“I don’t wish injury on anyone. I’ve had my fair share of them. My back is not going to get better, which is the hardest bit. To work around that, it’s not really possible. I’ve trained significantly less than I would have.”
“To make it this far, to get off the ground feels like a huge achievement. My goal was literally to get off the ground so to walk away in 10th is insane. 彼の最初のシーズンに, I’m enjoying it and feel happy on the wall," 彼女は言いました.
Coxsey lived up to those words until the end. On a day of many tears as Olympic dreams died in a matter of hours, she dismounted the wall after her lead performance with a beaming smile on her face. She ends her trailblazing career as a proud Olympian.