Tokyo 2020 Sport Climbing: Day 2 The sun sets on Shauna's golden dreams

Posted by Peter Burnside on 04/08/2021
Shauna on the sapping initial moves of B4 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: Sam Mellish / Team GB

Shauna Coxsey becomes the first climbing Olympian of Great Britain. Highlights of the second day of Sport Climbing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the women's qualification round.

Climbers of Great Britain were united today in their support for the best competition climber we’ve ever produced, Shauna Coxsey MBE. It’s been a long road to Tokyo for Shauna, having to overcome many trials, tribulations and unfortunately, a number of injuries too. However, there was no way the two-time Bouldering World Cup Champion would let her shot at an Olympic medal go by without giving it her all.

Another hot day greeted the athletes lining up for the women’s Speed qualification round, fortunately though it was not quite as sweltering as the evening before.

Speed Qualifiers

In the women’s first heat there were some blisteringly fast times posted and a few unfortunate slips that cost the competitors vital seconds. Team GB's Shauna Coxsey had been working on her speed climbing, but injuries likely meant she couldn’t quite give it her all in the speed portion of the Combined event, hopefully counting on her bouldering and lead climbing abilities to see her through to the final.

Fairly steady speed runs from Shauna saw her post a sub-10 second time of 9.65, the 16th fastest time and half a second off her personal best.

Meanwhile, Janja Garnbret of Slovenia made slight mistakes in both of her runs to post a time of 9.44 seconds, the 14th fastest time overall, which may count against her when the scores are multiplied later.

Aleksandra Miroslaw of Poland went nearly sub-7 seconds in her first heat and kept her cool to go even faster in her second run where she hit 6.97 seconds the new Olympic Record and agonisingly for Aleksandra just 0.01 seconds off the World Record.

Iuliia Kaplina of the Russian Olympic Committee, the current World Record holder, slipped and fell on the final move of an impressively fast second run, which left with a time of 7.65 seconds from her first heat, the 5th fastest time, which was obviously disappointing for Iuliia as a Speed specialist and likely cost her a place in the final.

Anouck Jaubert of France was disappointed to not go sub-7 seconds, but her impressive runs were just off and her fastest of 7.12 seconds was enough to gain her 2nd position, while Yiling Song of China took the 3rd position with her time of 7.46 seconds.


Shauna becomes GB's first Sport Climbing Olympian at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: Team GB / Sam Mellish

Bouldering Qualifiers

More tops in the women’s Bouldering round compared to the men’s gave the increased crowd much to cheer and applaud, especially on the crowd-pleaser B1 which featured a coordination dyno to a foot plant. Announced by the routesetting team as the hardest of the four, B1 actually saw the most tops from the competitors and was a great way to get everyone excited for the rest.

Shauna Coxsey climbed B1 on her second attempt, using some very strong alternative beta where, instead of the full one-two dyno she used the intermediate hold and smeared her right foot to hold the position and then jumped into the footplant.

Speed specialist Anouck Jaubert put herself in a great position to qualify for finals by topping B1 to help move her up the Boulder rankings.

Akiyo Noguchi of Japan and Brooke Raboutou of USA also climbed B1 in just two attempts, however, Janja Garnbret of Slovenia outclassed everyone by perfectly executing the low percentage coordination dyno and easily matching the top hold on her first try.

There were only five tops on B2, which consisted of a hard start on large, slopey holds with a tough undercut move to reach the zone, which many strong competitors failed to achieve. Shauna, however, had the crowd roaring as she flashed B2 very smoothly, finding a screwhole on the final move that helped pull her over to gain the hidden crimp in the top hold.

Brooke Raboutou and Janja Garnbret also flashed B2 with relative ease and the other tops came from Chaehyun Seo of South Korea and Viktoriia Meshkova of the Russian Olympic Committee.

Unfortunately not many tops were left to be had for Shauna, as B3 and B4 spat off nearly everyone, with each boulder only receiving three tops apiece. Shauna reached the zones on her first attempt on both boulders and nearly worked out the tricky upper section B3, which relied on canny footwork and strongly matching a slopey undercut volume, and made a valiant effort on B4 but powered out on the big moves between crimps after navigating her way through the tiring footless section through the mini roofs.

Akiyo Noguchi and Brooke Raboutou ended up with three tops each, Akiyo coming agonisingly close to hitting the hidden crimp on the top hold of B2 numerous times, while Brooke struggled in the burly upper section of B3. However, hats off to Janja Garnbret who came out last and barely broke a sweat as she climbed each boulder perfectly on her very first attempt. Outrageous to watch and really making it known that she’d come to Tokyo with her sights set on gold.

Lead Qualifiers

With all to play for and a lot to lose, tension was high as the athletes came out to make their way up the steep and imposing lead wall. There were a few tricky moves early on that had a number of climbers expending a little more effort than they would have liked, especially so for Laura Rogora of Italy who, possibly because of her shorter stature, struggled to reach a good crimp from a large slopey undercut having to go wrong handed and match.

The rest of the route continued to slowly ramp up in difficulty, featuring several long reachy moves before heading up into a series of hard compression moves on big pinches or slopey volumes, where many competitors found their limit. Only a few climbers found their way across the middle of the wall, stretching to match a difficult undercut before a big move to a large rail where the difficulties continued to increase.

Janja Garnbret and Miho Nonaka of Japan found they couldn’t move much further than here, while Jessie Pilz of Austria and Chaehyun Seo were the only two that made any further progress, Jessie falling after hold 33 and Chaehyun the only climber seemingly with stamina and strength left to make decent headway through the tricky moves of small holds on big volumes, struggling on a tough undercuts at hold 40+.

By the time Shauna came out, it looked like she needed to reach further than hold 26 to be in with a chance of making the final. She came out strong, making short work of the initial section although finding the undercut to crimp move a little tough. The next section continued quite smoothly, passing where Petra Klingler of Switzerland fell and moving into the difficult section on the large slopey green holds. Suddenly, Shauna started struggling and within a few moves, she powered out and fell going for hold 22.

That was it for Shauna, her final competition was finished and her illustrious competition climbing career came to a close, having announced in June that she was retiring from competitions after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. We’ll remember Shauna’s cool and calm style for many years, that she won every British Bouldering Championships she entered, that she was the IFSC Boulder World Cup Champion for two years running, her 11 gold medals in the IFSC World Cups and her bronze in the Combined World Championships.

Congratulations to Shauna for becoming the first climbing Olympian of Great Britain, we’re incredibly proud and it was brilliant to watch. We would like to wish her all the best for her next endeavour, we’re sure that, whatever it is, it will be as much of a success as her climbing career has been.

After becoming GB's first Sport Climbing Olympian at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Shauna will retire from competition climbing. Photo: Team GB / Sam Mellish

Women’s Finalists Sport Climbing Tokyo 2020


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