Road to Tokyo begins for Sport Climbers

Road to Tokyo begins for Sport Climbers

Australia’s best sports climbers as they’ve hit the walls at the 2016 World Championships in Paris

Posted on 19.09.2016

SPORT CLIMBING: The journey to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has begun for some of Australia’s best sports climbers as they’ve hit the walls at the 2016 World Championships in Paris.

With the sport set to make its Olympic debut in the Japanese capital in four years’ time, the six-strong Australian team has extra motivation as they aim to be among the nation’s first ever sports climbing representatives at a Games.

The three Olympic disciplines of lead, bouldering and speed will all be contested at the event with Australia featuring in both lead competitions as well as the men’s bouldering.

While the qualification period for Tokyo is still a while away, the event will provided much needed experience for a team that features 18-year-old Ben Abel and 19-year-olds Campbell Harrison, Alistair Earley and Roxy Perry.

The four teenagers are joined by fellow rising young gun Lucinda Stirling (22) and James Kassey (31) who was the first Aussie on the wall in Paris.

The first competition was the men’s bouldering event which sees athletes compete on a series of routes or ‘problems’ low to the ground without ropes that test the athletes skill, strength and agility.

Kassey (11th in qualification) was Australia’s best while Harrison (74th), Earley 83rd and Abel (100th) all bowed out in their non-preferred event

“It’s been fantastic so far I’ve climbed my qualifying round where I climbed four boulders in seven attempts which had me sitting in fifth place (he eventually finished 6th in his qualification group and tied 11th overall) so I’m pretty excited and psyched about that,” Kassey said.

“I can’t ask for too much more. We’ll see how we go in a couple of days’ time, hopefully I can maintain my place and make it into the finals.”

His high placing meant that Kassey is now through to the 20-man semi-final which will take place Friday evening (local time), a result he was extremely pleased about.

“I love the challenge of it. I love the atmosphere and climbing with so many like-minded people who are so psyched and passionate about the sport.

“Jumping on boulders that challenge me in so many different ways that I wouldn’t get to experience otherwise. Being here in Paris, what’s not to love?”

Then women’s lead event was up next with the competition featuring a long, difficult vertical course which climbers look to reach the top of. The winner is the athlete that reaches the highest point on the course with time becoming a factor if more than one athletes reaches the summit.

The Aussie duo of Perry and Stirling finished the qualification in 51st and 57th to miss the semi-finals.

Kassey, Earley and Harrison will compete in the men’s lead on Thursday.

No Australians feature in the women’s bouldering or the men’s and women’s speed events at the World Championships. The speed event sees athletes race an opponent up a wall with the winner being the first to the top.

This is only the second World Championships for Sport Climbing following the inaugural event in Munich in 2014 where no Australians featured. The event now accompanies the World Cup series which crowns an overall champion after seven events.

Sport Climbing was one of five sports added for the Tokyo 2020 Games alongside baseball/softball, surfing, karate and skateboarding.

Source
Australian Olympic Committee

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