This week it was announced that rock climbing will be included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games[divider]
The International Olympic Committee has announced that climbing will be included in a package of five new sports (Karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing and Baseball).
The decision comes after over six years of deliberation. Climbing’s inclusion is a significant breakthrough for the British climbing team, who have long struggled to secure funding. The move will bring more resources and support for the team, helping them build on the phenomenal victories of the last few years.
The British Mountaineering Council’s Competitions Development Officer, Robert Adie, describes the position of competitive climbing without Olympic funding as a ‘void’. The team is not eligible for Sport England’s mass participation subsidies and cannot access UK Sport’s resources available for Olympic events, leaving them heavily reliant on corporate sponsorship and assistance from dedicated volunteers.
As a result many of the athletes precariously balance work and training in an effort to support their sport. “This is not an ideal situation”, says Adie. “Much of the team have part time jobs as climbing coaches or route setters, so are often knackered by the time training comes around.” Indeed, currently Shauna Coxsey (IFSC Boulder World Cup Champion) is in fact the only full time athlete on the team.
This has placed the GB team at a significant disadvantage compared to those in Japan, Russia and even just across the channel in France, where teams have fully paid staff and coaches. “This is very often visible when we go to competitions”, say GB team members Molly Thompson-Smith and Alexia Basch. Although the pair are quick to celebrate the team’s current eminence they are thrilled at the prospect of Olympic recognition.
The BMC are also excited about what 2020 will bring for competitive climbing. “Inclusion in the Tokyo Games will boost climbing’s profile and bring more commercial opportunities claims Dave Turnbull, the BMC’S CEO. The team are already storming the international scene and their bouldering squad occupying the World no. 3 title.
With the confidence of more funding and booming support from the British public brought by a place in the Olympic Games, who knows what the team could achieve!