As one of the newest sports making its Olympic debut, sport climbing is perhaps the least known and most unusual of the five sports that are included.
Named alongside Skateboarding and Surfing in 2016 to make their debut at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, this is the first step the Games have taken to increase interest among teenagers.
But what is sport climbing?
O’Halloran started climbing years before it was introduced to the Olympics Jenny Evans / Getty Images
Sport climbing is a combination of three climbing disciplines: speed, bouldering and lead climbing, with the worst scorer of all three disciplines receiving the gold medal. According to Australian Olympic climber Tom O’Halloran, think of it as “an odd version of a triathlon. Each of the events tests different aspects of your physical abilities”.
The event starts with 20 men and 20 women each battling for medals. At the end of the qualifying round, only six men and six women will compete in the final, there will be no semifinals. The rating is determined by multiplying the number of points placed by the athletes in all three disciplines; the lowest number of points is awarded the gold medal.
Speed climbing is easy to understand. Climbers have to race up a 15 meter high wall, the first wins. In this competition, the climbers compete in one-on-one runs as part of a bracket tournament structure. A false start leads to the immediate disqualification of the participant.
A short, sharp event, the race can be over in just six seconds so don’t look the other way!
From here on it gets a little more complex.
Bouldering is all about strength and problem solving. Each athlete has four minutes to reach the top of each boulder, about four meters high, in a set of four. The aim of the climber is to reach the target grip and demonstrate control with both hands. The rating is determined by the number of attempts a climber takes to reach the summit.
When leading, the athletes try to climb as high as possible on a 15-meter-high wall with a six-meter overhang in a specified time. To make the event even more difficult, the climbers receive points for every controlled hold on the wall. The competitor who reaches the highest point on the wall receives the most points and thus wins the discipline. Competitors will only get one attempt; if they fall, their attempt will be terminated.
To determine the winner of the event, each entrant’s overall ranking is determined by multiplying their placements for each event, with lower scores ranking higher. This means that if an athlete is first in speed, fourth in bouldering and third in lead, his final rating is 12 (1x4x3), then he will be rated with his competitors.