Kenton Cool on Everest's summit last year with the Olympic medal

Kenton Cool on Everest's summit last year with the Olympic medal

Three British Everest summiteers are throwing their weight behind the final push for climbing to gain a foothold in the Olympics.

Sir Chris Bonington, Kenton Cool and Alan Hinkes all have Olympic connections as well as having made it to the roof of the world.

The three Brits are among a plethora of climbers backing the sport’s bid to be included in the 2020 Olympics.

The International Federation of Sport Climbing will make its presentation to the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday – the 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Everest, which mountaineers hope will be a portent for success.

Eight different sports are vying for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics, the venue for which has yet to be decided.

Only three of the eight are expected to be successful.

The IFSC is proposing a triathlon of climbing disciplines to reflect the Olympic motto ‘faster, higher, stronger. The event would involve speed climbing, with competitors racing up identical routes in a quest for the fastest time; lead climbing with ropes to test endurance as to who can get highest, and bouldering without ropes, to test strength and power.

Sir Chris Bonington hoists the Olympic flag on Scafell Pike in 2008

Sir Chris Bonington hoists the Olympic flag on Scafell Pike in 2008

Sir Chris Bonington, who took the Olympic torch to the top of Snowdon in the run up to London2012, and also kicked off the UK’s hosting of the Games by taking an Olympic flag to the top of Scafell Pike in 2008, said: “Competition climbing has been an important part of our sport for a long time.

“It’s an exciting and challenging event both for the participants and the spectators. The proposed triathlon event will test the full range of climbing abilities and at the same time will make terrific viewing.

“Climbing is already carried out in a huge number of countries around the world and can be practised anywhere.

“As a sport for the young, particularly school groups, it is immensely popular and effective for developing personal responsibility, where the belayer is responsible for the safety and perhaps even life of the climber.”

Kenton Cool, who recently extended his own British record to 11 Everest summits and also posted a first with the ‘Ultimate Three Peaks’ round including Lhotse and Nuptse, said: “29 May 2013 will be a momentous day for climbing.

“It is the 60th anniversary of the first successful summit of Mount Everest and it is the date the IFSC will present their case to the IOC. I’m backing the bid.

“In 1894 Baron Pierre de Coubertin reconstituted the modern Olympic movement and made a deliberate choice to include our sport of climbing.

“He felt so strongly about climbing’s inclusion that in 1924 he personally awarded the first ever Olympic Gold Medals for Mountaineering, and in 2012 I fulfilled the subsequent promise made by Great Britain to Baron Pierre de Coubertin and the IOC to place one of the 1924 mountaineering Olympic gold medals on to the summit of the world’s highest mountain ‘for all humanity’.

Alan Hinkes: 'good karma'

Alan Hinkes: 'good karma'

“Climbing is the very essence of everything Baron Pierre de Coubertin meant when he wrote the Olympic motto of ‘higher, faster, stronger’, and it was there on the very first day of the modern Olympics.”
The bid is also being backed by another British record holder, Alan Hinkes, the only UK climber to have summited all 14 of the world’s highest, 8,000m, mountains.

Hinkes said: “It has to be serendipity: the bid for rock-climbing to be included the Olympic Games presented for the final shortlist on the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest on 29 May.

“Good karma as many a Sherpa might claim.

“Good luck to the GB team. As an Olympic torchbearer I appreciate the enthusiasm that the Olympics can engender and indoor rock climbing as an Olympic sport will definitely match the Olympic motto of: ‘citius, altius, fortius’.”

Dave Turnbull, British Mountaineering Council chief executive added: “The BMC is fully behind the bid to see climbing in the 2020 Olympics.

“The GB climbing team is going from strength to strength and includes world-class athletes who are reaching the podiums.

“The proposed Olympic triathlon event of three climbing disciplines would be impressive to watch and embodies the Olympic motto perfectly: faster – speed climbing; higher – lead climbing; stronger – bouldering.

“This week is absolutely crucial for climbing’s bid as we wait to hear whether climbing makes the final three.”

The eight sports under consideration for the 2020 Olympics are baseball-softball, squash, karate, wakeboarding, the martial art wushu, sport climbing, roller sports and wrestling.

Participation figures from Sport England’s active people survey indicate the number of people mountaineering once a week has increased from 86,100 in 2007-08 to 98,700 in the years 2011-12. Mountaineering includes indoor climbing, rock-climbing, bouldering, mountaineering, high-altitude mountaineering, trekking, hillwalking and mountain-walking.

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