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Olympics

Olympic Sport Climbing’s Greatest Moments In Photos

The Finals were a wild ride, with who would win and who wouldn't shifting like sand as the competition progressed. What didn't change? The grit and courage shown by all the athletes, as captured by the lens of photographer Ryu Voelkel.

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Sport Climbing debuted August 3-6 on a special-built EntrePrises wall at the Aomi Urban Sports Park, a temporary venue near Tokyo Bay. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Jessica Pilz of Austria winds up on problem two during the Boulder finals. This tricky problem, meant to begin with the climber facing out, thwarted everyone except for Janja Garnbret of Slovenia. Pilz would read the problem correctly, attempting it by facing out, but didn’t top. She would place fifth in Boulder, seventh in Speed and third in Lead to finish seventh overall. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Narasaki Tomoa of Japan after failing to complete problem three, a tricky series of moves on volumes that saw no tops, leaving some to speculate whether it was too difficult. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

A scraped-up Brooke Rabotou, heels over head, after an excellent performance in Boulder, where she finished in second place. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Mickael Mawem of France, launches off the Lead wall during finals. After Boulder finals he was in a three-way tie for first with Coleman and Tomoa, but his seventh-place (last) finish in Lead would keep him out of the medals. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Adam Ondra of the Czech Republic before his final run on the Speed wall. Despite a disdain for the discipline, Ondra trained for Speed and blazed up the wall and into fourth place. Perhaps ironically, he finished poorly in Boulder, coming away with a sixth-place position in a discipline he typically excels in. In qualifiers two days before he had flashed all three Boulder problems, a perfect display. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Seo Chae-hyun of South Korea races Speed specialist Aleksandra Miroslaw of Poland. Miroslaw would win the event, and in her final heat set a new women’s speed world record. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Janja Garnbret of Slovenia powers through the big footless moves during Lead finals. She would win Lead, and with a first-place finish in Boulder and a fifth in Speed, her score of five easily earned her Olympic gold.

Jakob Schubert of Austria elated after being the only competitor to top the lead wall in the Olympic sport-climbing finals. His success kicked Adam Ondra out of the medals—until that point Ondra had the gold, but when Schubert passed him in Lead, Ondra went from first to second in Lead, doubling his score. Photo: Jess Talley, Jon Glassberg/Louder Than 11

Alberto Gines Lopez led going into the Boulder, but placed last. Due to the oddity of the scoring system where the results from each event are multiplied, he still had a low score (1 x 7 = 7) going into lead, and the climber with the lowest score would win.   Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Colin Duffy of the U.S. chalks up his first Olympics. He didn’t medal, but the 17 year old has time on his side, and with Speed split off from Sport Climbing as its own event in the 2024 Paris games, he could do well there. Photo: Ryu Voelkel
Narasaki Tomoa (R) is beaten by Lopez in the Speed finals. Tomoa would finish Speed in second place, but a sixth place in Lead put him out of the medals.  Lopez would  finish Speed in first—a shock since Speed isn’t his specialty—last in Boulder and fourth in Lead, but his win in Speed gave him a combined score with a multiple of one, and the Olympic gold. Photo: MOHD RASFAN/AFP via Getty Images

Miho Nonaka sets up for a big move during Boulder finals. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Anouck Jaubert of France after narrowly missing the win in speed. She raced Aleksandra Miroslaw of Poland, who set a new women’s world record time of 6.84 seconds (is there another Olympic event where you can set a world record and not medal?). Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Seo Chae-hyun of South Korea climbed hard, placing second in Lead, seventh in Boulder and eighth in Speed. Her combined score put he in last place, but just 17 years old, she has many more Olympics ahead of her. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Akiyo Noguchi of Japan hits the pads during Boulder finals. Four was her number that night. She placed fourth in Speed, fourth in Boulder and fourth in Lead … and ended up third overall, taking bronze. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Schubert not quite happy with his fifth place finish in Boulder. To this point he was in last place with 35 points, but his win in Lead would flip a lot of numbers, earning him the bronze. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Jaubert hands it to Garnbret for her win in Boulder. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Nathaniel Coleman during his excellent Boulder performance where he’d take first place, ultimately earning him the silver medal. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Adam Ondra on the third problem in Boulder. Despite a strong performance in Speed, and a brilliant climb in Lead, he couldn’t solve the Boulder riddles, ultimately costing him a podium. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Coleman was tied for first going into Lead. His fifth place Lead finish got him the silver. Photo by Ryu Voelkel

Lopez seemed surprised to learn that he’d won gold. He wasn’t alone. The complicated scoring system made it practically impossible to keep track of how the athletes were placing as the competition progressed. Ondra, for example, went from first place and getting the gold to completely out of the medals when Schubert, the final climber of the competition, passed his high point in Lead in the closing minutes. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

By the end of the finals evening Janja Garnbret took the gold, Miho Nonaka (left) the silver, while her teammate Akiyo Noguchi went home with the bronze. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Lopez takes the highest podium, flanked by Coleman (left) with the sliver and Schubert with the bronze. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Nathaniel Coleman, the first climber to earn a silver medal in Olympic history. Photo: Ryu Voelkel

Photo: Jess Talley, Jon Glassberg/Louder Than 11

Photo: Ryu Voelkel