“Ganba, ganba” (“Let’s go”) was the phrase of the night as Japanese hopefuls Miho Nonaka and Akiyo Noguchi qualified for the finals in women’s sport climbing.
The Olympic sport climbing competition, debuting in Tokyo, is divided into three disciplines: speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing, with climbers scored across all three.
Miho Nonaka placed fourth in the speed climbing section, hitting the red finishing pad at the top of the 15-meter high route in just 7.55 seconds. In the bouldering, she struggled as fatigue set in, unable to top out on three out of four routes and finishing that section in 8th. In the lead, she regained her form to reach hold number 30+ up the wall, finishing third in that discipline and third overall with a combined score of 96.00.
Akiyo Noguchi, who has won seven gold medals at the Climbing World Cup, placed 9th in speed climbing, with a best time of 8.23 seconds. She showed her strength in the bouldering section, finishing third in that discipline after completing three out of the four routes, and then finished 6th in the lead to qualify fourth overall with a combined score of 162.00.
Poland’s Aleksandra Miroslaw qualified after setting the night’s fastest time on the speed course, just 0.01 seconds off the world record pace of 6.96 seconds. Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret took first place in bouldering and qualified in first overall with a combined score of 56.00. South Korean Chaehyun Seo climbed to hold 40+ to finish the lead climbing section in first place, qualifying second overall.
The humidity did nothing to make the job of the athletes easier. Climbers use chalk to keep their hands dry and improve friction against the wall, but many lacked grip due to sweaty hands on the hot August evening.
Each climber’s final score is calculated by multiplying together their finishing positions in each discipline. Twenty climbers started out the night, and the eight climbers with the lowest combined score progressed to Friday’s final, due to start at 5.30 p.m.
In the men’s qualifiers Tuesday, Tomoa Narasaki qualified second to reach Thursday’s finals. Kai Harada was the only Japanese climber to be eliminated, after finishing the qualifiers in 18th.
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