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Greatest ever: Janja Garnbret conquers sport climbing wall for first-ever women's gold

Greatest ever: Janja Garnbret conquers sport climbing wall for first-ever women's gold
Posted at 6:07 AM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 15:07:46-04

Slovenian climber Janja Garnbret added an Olympic-sized accomplishment her mounting case as the greatest female sport climbing athlete of all time, winning the first women's gold medal in the sport's history at the Summer Games.

Garnbret, 22, was in a different class on the bouldering and speed walls in the inaugural Olympic final to win gold with a combined score of 5.0.

Japan's Nonaka Miho and Noguchi Akiyo took silver and bronze at 45.0 and 64.0 ranking points, respectively.

SEE MORE: Sport Climbing 101: Competition Format

SEE MORE: Brooke Raboutou slips off boulders, finishes in 5th place

The sport made its debut in Tokyo as one of four new sports to the Olympic program — along with surfing, skateboarding and karate — in an effort by the IOC to attract new audiences to the Games. Sport climbing has exploded in popularity in recent years, with its international federation estimating that about 3,000 people on average pick up the sport for the first time each day.

Japan is one of sport climbing's biggest hotbeds, evidence by the host nation's two medals in the event. Noguchi, 32 and a legend of the sport, announced prior to the event that the Olympics would be her final competition before retirement.

American Brooke Raboutou finished off the podium despite a second-place finish in the bouldering round. She suffered a costly fall early on the lead wall which eliminated her from medal contention.

SEE MORE: Polish climber Aleksandra Miroslaw breaks speed climbing world record in Olympic final

Garnbret — a six-time world champion across bouldering, lead climbing and combined disciplines — was the only one of eight finalists to top a boulder during the second phase of the competition, and did so twice. The 22-year-old phenom also ascended to the highest hold on the lead wall, 37+, to win two out of three disciplines outright.

Garnbret finished fifth in the opening round of speed climbing, which was controversially included in the Olympic combined format for Tokyo along with the more methodical and cerebral disciplines of bouldering and lead. Speed climbing is slated as a separate medal event for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

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