World bouldering champion Shauna Coxsey in action. Photo: Eddie Fowke/IFSC

World bouldering champion Shauna Coxsey in action. Photo: Eddie Fowke/IFSC

Climbing will become an Olympic sport, the movement’s bosses have announced.

A much anticipated announcement in Rio de Janeiro by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday evening confirmed the go-ahead for sport climbing to be included in the 2020 Tokyo games.

It comes after Climb Britain, formerly the British Mountaineering Council, and Mountaineering Scotland threw their weight behind a concerted campaign for Olympic inclusion by the International Federation of Sport Climbing.

Team GB climbers will be among 20 men and 20 women from across the globe, who will each need to compete in three specific disciplines: lead, speed and bouldering.

Nick Colton, deputy chief officer of Climb Britain, said: “‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ was the Olympic motto proposed by Pierre de Coubertin when the modern Olympics were first created in 1894.

“And climbing is the embodiment of, and the only sport which fully features all parts of, that phrase.

“Inclusion in the Olympics will bring climbing, with all its mental and physical health benefits, to the attention of a huge number of people worldwide, especially young people, inspiring them to get involved in this exciting, and wonderfully multi-faceted activity.

“These days, climbing is accessible to all. It’s good for developing strength, flexibility and analytical skills.

“And as a competitive sport, events can be held in spectacular venues for breathtaking shows, inciting intense emotions in the spectators.

“It also represents the only basic human movement not yet included in the Olympic Games; sport climbing brings the missing vertical dimension to the world’s most prestigious sporting event.”

David Gibson: 'exciting challenge for climbers'

David Gibson: 'exciting challenge for climbers'

David Gibson, chief executive of Mountaineering Scotland, which until recently was known as the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said: “This fantastic development will be a real boost for our young talented climbers, their coaches and parents who are dedicated to the sport.

“Like them, we’re proud that young Scottish climbers have regularly gained podium places in international competitions as members of the GB team.

“We feel we’re well placed to compete internationally especially as the Olympic competition will place a premium on excelling at three different disciplines.

“It’s going to be an exciting challenge for climbers and their coaches in the years to come, and will inspire even more young people to get involved in the future.”

Lead climbing is done on a long route, with roped protection, clipping into quickdraws during a single attempt at the course, with increasing points for progressively higher holds reached.

Speed climbing is again tackled using protection, but the fastest climber to complete the course gains the victory. Practising on the route is allowed.

Bouldering is tackled without ropes on lower routes up to about 5m high, with a succession of problems to successfully climb, and those who take the fewest attempts to reach the top holds gain the points.

Cheshire-born Shauna Coxsey, 23, is the reigning IFSC bouldering world cup champion, clinching the title in Vail, Colorado, in June this year

Londoner Molly Thompson-Smith, 18, is a Team GB captain and the UK’s number-one lead climber when it comes to the ‘senior women’ and ‘junior female’ categories.

The IFSC said the declaration about sport climbing’s Olympic inclusion was the result of a ‘long, hard climb’ to see it recognised.

The IFSC president Marco Scolaris said: “We are so happy that sport climbing will be participating in the games of Tokyo.

“The Olympics have been our dream for quite some time, and now the hard work has finally paid off. We would like to thank the IOC for extending a truly unique opportunity to our sport.”

In September of 2014, the IOC unanimously approved the proposed addition of new events for the 2020 Olympic Games.

After the IFSC and the Japanese Mountaineering Association presented their bid in Tokyo one year later, eight sports were shortlisted.

In June this year, the executive board of the IOC approved a package containing five of these sports to be submitted for approval: baseball-softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.

Now the IOC has approved all five events for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

In a statement, the IFSC said: “Sport climbing embodies the core values of the Olympics movement.

“It is an exciting, healthy and affordable sport which can be practised on all five continents. Women and youth are represented, and persons with disabilities participate as well.”

The IFSC will now begin work on the technical aspects of the Olympic climbing event.

Rob Adie, climbing walls and competitions officer at Climb Britain, is confident the British team will be well in contention for medals in four years’ time.

He said: “The GB junior climbers are an incredibly dedicated team and are training hard and doing incredibly well in Europe at the moment with regular top 10 finishes from both the girls and boys in most age categories.

“These guys will be our future potential Olympians and it’s great to see them doing so well at such a young age.

“We will be sending a very strong team to the world championships in China in November so we have high hopes for some good results there, too.”

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