South Korean climber Seo Chae-hyun competes at the women’s sport climbing competition Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Sport climbing was first introduced as a competing event at the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia. It debuted as an official Olympic event at the ongoing Tokyo 2020.
Sport climbing at the Tokyo Olympics features three disciplines: “Speed,” “Bouldering,” and “Lead.” In the Speed discipline, athletes compete to scurry to the top of a 15-meter artificial rock wall, set at an angle of 95 degrees, with safety ropes.
In Bouldering, athletes take on 4.5-meter boulders to complete routes, known as problems, to reach the last hold in as few tries as possible with a given time limit. In the finals, they have to tackle four boulders and are allowed four minutes per boulder. Safety mats are installed under the wall as a precaution. Athletes are not allowed to practice climbing before the game, but they are given two minutes before the start to observe and map out the routes mentally.
Last but not least, in Lead, climbers go as high up as they can up a 15-meter wall within six minutes. Athletes have a safety rope attached, and if one falls, the height that they last reached is recorded.
All three disciplines require flexibility and agility. At the Tokyo 2020, the ranking is determined by a multiplied score of athletes’ placements in the three disciplines. The one with the lowest score bags a gold medal.
Forty men and women -- 20 representing each side -- have been competing in the Olympic sport which is being held at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. The preliminary matches took place on Aug. 3 to 4, and the final rounds are underway on Friday.
South Koreans have pinned their hopes on Seo Chae-hyun and Chon Jong-won to win medals.