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Sport climbing in review: Coleman ascends to the podium, Garnbret tops the competition

Sport climbing in review: Coleman ascends to the podium, Garnbret tops the competition
Posted at 10:20 PM, Aug 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-08 03:15:54-04

While sport climbing was making its Olympic debut as one of four new sports to the Tokyo Games, the question most were left wondering was, what took so long?

From electrifying (and record-setting, more on that below) duels on the speed wall, to bouldering masterclasses, to nail-biting suspense on the lead wall, sport climbing checked all the boxes for a must-watch Olympic mainstay.

Relive the best moments from four days of climbing at Aomi Urban Sports Park, which featured plenty of surprises and at least one all-time legacy cemented.

Men's qualification: Colin Duffy flashes potential

The United States was one of just three nations to send the maximum of four climbers to the Tokyo Games. Of those four, 17-year-old Colin Duffy was the biggest surprise.

Duffy, the youngest sport climbing athlete in Tokyo, blew all expectations out of the water in the qualification round by not only advancing to the final, but doing so with a top-three ranking.

His highlight reel moment came on the qualification lead wall, where he was one of just two climbers to reach the final move of the route.

SEE MORE: 17-year-old Colin Duffy nearly tops sport climbing lead wall

Men's final: Nathaniel Coleman stuns for silver

While Duffy impressed in qualification, his more experienced teammate Nathaniel Coleman came within a few holds of missing the final altogether. But Coleman snuck in with the eighth and final spot, then made it count medal round.

After a pedestrian sixth-place spot spot in the speed competition, Coleman put on a show in a difficult bouldering round, taking the No. 1 spot. 

Third place on the lead was was enough to earn Coleman, and the United States, a historic silver medal in sport climbing's Olympic debut. 

The Utah native, who has never made a combined final at any World Championships, was in disbelief after the competition, which was won by Spanish 18-year-old Alberto Gines Lopez.

SEE MORE: USA's Nathaniel Coleman snatches debut sport climbing silver

Women's final: Miroslaw rewrites the record books

In somewhat of a controversial decision, the IOC elected to bring sport climbing into the Olympics with a format that combines the methodical disciplines of bourldering and lead climbing with the all-out blitz of speed climbing.

While plenty of climbers in Tokyo sported a well-rounded skillset, specialists were not hard to find.

Among the speed specialists was Poland's Aleksandra Miroslaw. Without much of a chance on the bouldering or lead walls, Miroslaw's only chance at a medal required winning the speed round outright.

The podium was not to be, but Miroslaw did not leave empty handed. In the final speed round matchup, facing fellow speed specialist Anouck Jaubert, Miroslaw levitated up the wall in 6.84 seconds, a world record.

SEE MORE: Aleksandra Miroslaw smashes speed climbing world record

Women's final: Janja Garnbret in a class of her own

While the sport climbing men's competition was a wide-open affair from the beginning, there was little doubt who would leave with gold on the women's side.

Slovenia's Janja Garnbret, at just 22 years old, was already considered by many to be the greatest female sport climber of all time.

She showed why in Tokyo, dominating en route to the gold medal.

SEE MORE: Slovenia's Garnbret wins first ever sport climbing gold

Medal summary

MEN'S COMBINED

Gold: Alberto Gines Lopez (ESP)
Silver: Nathaniel Coleman (USA)
Bronze: Jakob Schubert (AUT)

WOMEN'S COMBINED

Gold: Janja Garnbret (SLO)
Silver: Nonaka Miho (JPN)
Bronze: Noguchi Akiyo (JPN)