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Preview: Surprises Abound As Some Stars Dim, Underdogs Shine At Olympics

The night was full of twists and turns, with underdogs giving top-dog performance, and the eight climbers advancing to the finals were only half expected.

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It’s a historic day, as climbing is now officially underway at the Tokyo Olympics. The men’s qualification portion was held early this morning in American time zones, and there’s a heckuva lot to talk about. Check out all the results from the Speed, Boulder, and Lead rounds if you haven’t already. And if you’d like to take a deeper dive into the action, here are some Highs, Lows, and Miscellany from the thrilling round.  

HIGHS

Mickael Puts on a Masterclass: I consumed a lot of Olympic-related hype leading up to these Games, and I had countless conversations with friends, fellow climbers, and media colleagues—and, amid all that, no one predicted that France’s Mickael Mawem would be the winner of the qualification round. His seventh-place finish at the 2019 World Championships (where he earned his Olympic berth) certainly gave no hint or indication that he was destined for such superstardom. Yet, his masterwork in this opening Olympic round was undeniable: third place in Speed, first place in Boulder, and 11th place in Lead for a multiplied winning score of 33. With that, Mawem not only wrecked most people’s Olympic predictions, but he also has to now be considered one of the favorites for a gold medal heading into the finals. This qualification round also happened to fall on his birthday, and it’s hard to think of a better celebratory gift than cruising to the top of the leaderboard on climbing’s biggest stage.

Mickael Mawem put on a master-class performance, third in Speed, first in Boulder and 11th in Lead. Not many saw that coming. Photo: Ryu VoelkelThe full story is available to Outside+ or Climbing brand members. Please go here to join us with a membership and enjoy all of our Olympic coverage. If you are already a member, go here to continue reading