Olympic gold-medal favorite Janja Garnbret defender her world title, while Akiyo Noguchi secured a spot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a runner-up finish in the women’s combined event at the IFSC World Championships at Esforta Arena Hachioji on Tuesday.
Garnbret, a 20-year-old Slovenian, secured the gold medal by finishing finished sixth, second and first in the speed, bouldering and lead disciplines, respectively.
Scores were determined by multiplying the athletes’ finishing positions in each of the three disciplines, and climbers with lower scores were placed higher in the combined event. The scoring system will be used at the Olympics, too.
“I didn’t have the best start in speed, I didn’t have the best start in bouldering,” said Garnbret, who captured the Bouldering World Cup season title by winning all six meets this year. “But I enjoyed every single round and it just feels amazing. I have had a dream season.”
Garnbret, who won the 2018 world combined title in Innsbruck, Austria, said that she’s now punched a ticket to the Olympics, where she’ll be the heavy favorite, too.
“I’ve qualified for the Olympics, which is amazing, of course,” she said with a smile. “I will celebrate today.”
The combined discipline, known as sport climbing, makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo, where each country can dispatch as many as two athletes apiece to the men’s and women’s competitions.
Noguchi got off to a slow start, slipping to seventh in the speed portion of the competition. But she bounced back to take first place in the bouldering and remain in the mix for the gold medal. But she came up short in the end, placing third in the lead.
For the world championships, the Japan Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Association had set a criterion that the top Japanese, male and female, who finish in the top seven would be given a ticket to the 2020 Summer Games.
“It feels like a dream. I can’t believe this yet,” said Noguchi, who finished second in the bouldering last Wednesday as well. “I didn’t think I would really get (the ticket). I’m out of words.”
Britain’s Shaunae Coxsey was second, third and seventh in the three disciplines to earn the bronze medal. Three other Japanese qualified for the final, with Miho Noguchi, Ai Mori and Futaba Ito placing fifth, sixth and seventh in the final standings, respectively.
Noguchi had revealed that the Tokyo Olympics would be her final competition. But she said that she’d retire right away if she didn’t qualify for the 2020 Games.
“I was second in the bouldering, I was second in the World Cup circuit (this year). And I was second today, too,” the 30-year-old said. “I’ll train hard so that I can shoot for first place in the next year (at the Olympics).”
On Wednesday, the final day of the 11-day world championships, the men’s combined will be held, providing others with an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.