Spanish teenager Lopez wins first Olympic climbing gold medal | national
TOKYO (AP) – Spanish teenager Alberto Gines Lopez won the first Olympic gold medal in sport climbing, securing a victory in the sprint discipline to the top step of the podium on Thursday at the Tokyo Games.
Gines Lopez, 18, opened the final with the win in speed, then showed his general skills by finishing seventh in the lead and fourth overall. He had 30 points – the arrivals are multiplied together – to overtake the American Nathaniel Coleman by two.
Coleman passed three of four “problems” to win the block, was fifth in the lead and sixth in speed.
Austria’s Jakob Schubert made the night’s climb, becoming the first man or woman to reach the top of the 45-meter lead wall in three days of competition. His rise propelled him to the bronze medal and knocked Czech climber Adam Ondra off the podium.
Climbing went from a relaxed outdoor vibe to a competitive sport in the 1990s and took a big step forward in 2007 with the formation of the International Federation of Sport Climbing.
The World Cup circuit has increased the popularity of the sport, as has the increase in the number of recreational gyms around the world.
Popular currency has exploded in recent years with the prowess of top climbers on social media, a televised deal with ESPN, and the success of Free Solo, a documentary about Alex Honnold’s ropeless ascent from El Capitan to Yosemite.
The climax put elite climbers in position to reach the Olympic rings.
Sport climbing was added to the Tokyo Games, along with skateboarding, karate, 3v3 basketball and surfing with the aim of attracting the younger generations.
But with the inclusion came an exception: speed climbing was part of the program.
The IOC is presenting two medals in climbing – one for men and one for women – and wanted something fast to grab people’s attention, so speed was included.
The decision angered leading climbers and boulder climbers; speed is a more specialized discipline and will have its own medals at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The key for lead and bouldering specialists would be to offset low speed scores with high scores, even a first in one or both of the other disciplines.
Ondra, considered the best climber in the world, called the speed a circus show and didn’t seem too worried about his results in the final in Tokyo. He laughed after losing to Gines Lopez after getting a first-round pass and was elated after losing to Mickael Mawem because he set a personal best 6.68 seconds to finish fourth.
Ondra struggled on the boulder walls after passing the first problem, but had the best score in the lead until Schubert’s climb.
Gines Lopez used his speed climbing prowess to his advantage, winning the final race against Japan’s Tomoa Narasaki with a 6.42 second run over the 4.5-meter wall studded with standardized holds. The teenager who used to wrestle with his nerves kept his cool over the next two disciplines, winning gold.
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