Climbing

Sport Climbing At the 2020 Olympics: Everything You Need to Know

JULY 20, 2021 TESSA BRADFORD

Sport climbing is in the Olympic games for the first time in history and it all starts on August 3!

We’re only a few weeks away from rock climbing’s debut in the Olympics for the first time in history! Some of the best climbers in the world are descending on Tokyo to compete in a three-part rock climbing competition that will challenge their strength, speed, power, strategy, and endurance. And in the end, only one woman and one man will receive the first-ever gold medals in sports climbing.

This is a big moment for rock climbing as the sport gains recognition on the world’s largest stage. And we’re more than a little bit excited to watch some of the top climbers in the world go for gold on the wall!

Who are the top athletes to look out for? How do the competitions work? Where can I tune in? What events is my local BKB hosting?! We’ve got all the answers and more for you in our Guide to Rock Climbing in the Olympics. So grab your climbing buddies and head to your favorite BKB to watch the Climbing Events. Starting August, we’ll be screening the climbing events at all locations. Check the schedule here.

TL;DR Quick Olympic Break-Down
  • Sport climbing at the Olympics breaks down into three disciplines: speed, bouldering, and lead climbing. Every athlete needs to compete in all three disciplines.
  • Speed climbing: Fastest to the top of a 15-meter wall wins!
  • Bouldering: Four minutes to ascend unknown bouldering routes without a rope. The first-place winner is the athlete with the most finishes to the “top” or the last handhold.
  • Lead climbing: One attempt and six minutes to climb up a 50-foot wall while roped in. The winner is the climber who gets the highest.
  • The athlete walking away with a gold medal is the climber who gets the best score overall across all three disciplines. This is calculated by multiplying the ranking of all three, and the lowest score wins.
  • There will be 40 athletes in total, 20 women and 20 men, coming from all over the world to Tokyo. Each country is allowed up to two athletes per gender.
  • Representing the U.S. are Nathaniel Coleman, Colin Duffy, Kyra Condie, and Brooke Raboutou.
  • The Olympic Games in Tokyo officially start on Jul 23, 2021. The sport climbing events take place from August 3 to August 6.

Scoring

Scores will be calculated by multiplying the rankings across each climbing discipline. For example, if an athlete finishes second in speed, first in bouldering, and third in lead climbing that gives them a score of six. The athlete with the lowest score brings home the gold.

In these Olympic games, there are only six medals in total up for grabs for sport climbers. One gold, silver, and bronze medal for men and another for women.

OLYMPIC is a registered trademark of the United States Olympic Committee. Brooklyn Boulders has no affiliation with the USOC.