What Adam Ondra did not expect in anticipation of the introduction of sport climbing at the Olympics was that he would rank high in speed climbing, a discipline he respected, but loathed compared to bouldering, a discipline. Where she excels and has won world championships.
His disappointing end in bouldering, merging one of the three climbing types into a single Olympic event, fueled medal aspirations for Ondra, widely regarded as the world’s top climber, with both artificial walls and towering rock formations. Feather.
But it helped open up possibilities for others, and 18-year-old Alberto Gins López worked his way to the gold medal with an unexpected all-around performance.
Nathaniel Coleman of the United States won the silver, and Jakob Schubert of Austria, who had barely looked in the competition until his final moments, took the bronze.
Each athlete’s finish in each of the three disciplines was multiplied together – speed, bouldering and lead climbing. It produced an ever-changing leaderboard, shuffled over and over like a flip-numbers schedule at an old train station.
For a moment after Schubert’s final creep, Ondra was in a position to win gold. But when Schubert passed Ondra’s high mark, Ondra’s score was doubled in an instant, and he fell to sixth place.
Ginés López finished first in pace and second in the lead – two events that couldn’t have been more different.
Coleman, a steely jaw-dropping 24-year-old from Utah, didn’t expect to make it to the finals just two nights ago, when his qualification round ended with a mediocre boulder performance and an early slip in the lead. Disappointed, he congratulated his US teammate Colin Duffy on reaching the finals and said that he would be in the audience to cheer him on.
But as the scores shuffled, he found himself in the eighth and last place in the final. On Thursday he took first place for a time, only to be passed over the main wall, and in the lead, by Gins López.
Japan’s Tomoa Narasaki, a powerhouse and surprisingly strong speed climber on the Boulder and Lead circuit, finished fourth.
Ondra’s disappointing performance in bouldering left her far behind among seven competitors. He went to the final event led by his best discipline, knowing that only a winning performance could save a medal.
It almost did. Before Schubert came along, he rose higher than anyone in the lead, as if to prove a point. But as Ondra dropped from first to second place, his overall score dropped from 24 points to 48, dropping him five places overall.