New Olympic Plan: Climbers Must Compete in Bouldering, Lead, and Speed


3/20/13 - If climbing makes it into the Olympics in 2020, the medalists will have to be all-around masters of plastic. To win gold under a new IFSC proposal for the Games, climbers must score high in all three competition disciplines: bouldering, lead, and speed. Climbing is vying with seven other sports to enter the Games in 2020.

Last year, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) announced that lead climbing would be the sole event in its Olympic proposal. The decision to reverse course and include all three disciplines in the medal chase was "mainly due to an analysis made after the World Championship in Paris in September 2012, where lead, speed, and bouldering competitions took place alongside one another and an overall medal was awarded," said Anne Fuynel, communications director for the IFSC. "The spectacle and the complementarity of the three disciplines were evident in front of everybody."

According to a story at the Inside the Games website, the IFSC decision was influenced by a recommendation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Technical Commission, which evaluated the 2012 World Championships.

Under the new proposal, which was first presented to the IOC in December and will be offered to the IOC Executive Board in late May, 30 men and 30 women will compete in the Olympics, and only two medals will be awarded, one each for men and women. Climbers will compete in all three disciplines—lead, boulder, and speed—over two days to determine an overall winner. Canadian Sean McColl took the men's overall gold at the 2012 World Championships in Paris, and Korean Jain Kim won the women's overall gold.

The IOC is expected to reduce the shortlist of potential new sports for the 2020 Games to three at its May meeting. Earlier this year, the IOC announced its decision to drop wrestling from the Games after 2016, and now climbing must vie with proposals from wrestling advocates as well as supporters of bids from baseball, karate, wakeboarding, and other sports. The IOC's final decision will be announced in September.

The IFSC's new plan "will offer a complete presentation of the vertical challenges of climbing to the audience, while showing all the spectacular features each discipline has," Fuynel said. "The three together will be a perfect display of the Olympic motto."

Sources: IFSC,