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  • Sport Climbing Captivates Fans, IOC President


    (ATR) Japanese climbers Keita Dohi and Shuta Tanaka ascended to gold and silver medals as sport climbing thrilled fans sprawled below the towering 15-meter climbing wall at Urban Park.

    Japan's Dohi and Tanaka win gold and silver (ATR)
    International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and sport director Kit McConnell attended the six-man final on a beautiful day in Buenos Aires. Bach said the sport is more than ready for its Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020.

    “I’m not only impressed, I’m excited, or in the climbing language maybe I would say I’m stoked,” Bach tells Around the Rings with a laugh.

    “I got to know this sport in Germany when I was president there, 10, 12 years ago and I was fascinated from the very beginning.

    “There was great resistance from the sports community from the very beginning and now to see them here at the Youth Olympic Games, preparing for the Olympics is really fantastic.”

    The combined event contested at the Youth Olympic Games includes the three disciplines of speed, bouldering and lead. The format will be the same for the Tokyo Games, with three medals available for both men and woman.

    Although sport climbing will be one of five new featured sports on the Tokyo 2020 program, it is not new to the Youth Olympic Games. It was tested at the Nanjing 2014 Games as part of the Sports Lab initiative.

    Dohi looked back and urged on the fans midway through his final climb with the gold medal all but secured.
    “I want to make a sport that everyone can see and enjoy in Tokyo 2020,” Dohi said. “Sport Climbing should be appreciated by all sportsmen.”

    French climber Sam Avezou – who led all 21 climbers after the speed discipline contested in the morning – won the bronze medal. He believes the climbers put on a spectacle.

    “I think it made a great impression – before it wasn’t in the Olympics, but now everyone I talk with says it is impressive so it’s a great beginning,” Avezou said.

    “At this event there were many more people than we are used to seeing,” the Frenchman added. “There was a lot of noise and that made it more incredible.”

    Japanese climbing team head coach Yasui Hiroshi said the 1-2 performance bodes well leading to Tokyo 2020, although the team has a strong contingent of 15 athletes who will contend among each other to qualify for the Olympics.

    “We have to train harder for Tokyo 2020 – our only problem is the speed discipline,” Hiroshi said.

    Regarding the crowd energy and enthusiasm at the climbing venue, Hiroshi added: “It was super nice – every athlete put on a good performance today and there was a lot of passion passed on from the climbers to the fans, so they really seemed to enjoy it.”

    It will be the girls’ turn to climb for Youth Olympic Games medals when their combined event is contested on Thursday at Urban Park.

    “I admire these athletes – it’s a unique combination of almost artistic skills and strength,” Bach said. “The two medals for the Japanese athletes will help in Japan, but you can see the sport growing in the U.S. and everywhere.”

    Coverage of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games is made possible in part by BA 2018

    Written by Brian Pinelli with additional reporting from Aaron Bauer in the Buenos Aires Urban Park

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