Slovenian wins bouldering and combined titles at IFSC Climbing World Championships in Innsbruck

Janja Garnbret was born to climb.

The 19-year-old starred at the 2018 IFSC Climbing World Championships in Innsbruck, taking gold in bouldering and combined after a silver medal in lead.

It was the first time the combined competition adopted the format which will be used when the sport makes its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.

And when asked if victory made her the big favourite for Japan, Garnbret replied, "Yes, maybe!"

Janja Garnbret celebrates winning the 2018 combined world title in Innsbruck (courtesy of Johann Groder/EXPA Pictures)
Janja Garnbret celebrates winning the 2018 combined world title in Innsbruck (courtesy of Johann Groder/EXPA Pictures)Janja Garnbret celebrates winning the 2018 combined world title in Innsbruck (courtesy of Johann Groder/EXPA Pictures)

New format, new champion

Six climbers went through to the final after their placings in the lead, speed and bouldering competitions were multiplied together.

Garnbret was only fifth after speed, her weakest discipline, but easily took top spot in bouldering and was crucially able to conserve energy going into the closing lead climb.

And she finished first again to take gold ahead of South Korea's Sol Sa and Austria's lead gold medallist Jessica Pilz.

"The Olympic format is new to all of us and requires a lot of stamina. After the speed discipline I knew that I had to attack. I am very happy that it worked so well!"

Bouldering success

After taking lead silver, and despite an injured right shoulder, Garnbret took her first gold in bouldering.

She did it in style as the only climber to complete two of the first three climbs.

By the time she walked up to the wall for the final time, she had already sealed the world title.

When the clock ran down on her last climb, she burst into tears overwhelmed by emotion.

"This is what I was preparing for the whole season... this means a lot to me."

The victory made Garnbret the first female climber to claim world titles in both lead and bouldering.

Glittering CV

After a childhood spent on top of trees, closets and doors, the Slovenian graduated to competitive climbing at six years old.

With a relentless dedication to her craft, five youth world titles followed as she scaled the heights of sport climbing.

She outgrew the youth competitions quickly and turned her attention to competing on the World Cup circuit.

With 13 World Cup victories to date Garnbret is now a global star.

“I love climbing. It is not a load for me to train.” - Janja Garnbret talking to innsbruck2018.com

One look at northern Slovenian-born star’s attitude towards training, and the reasons behind her success become clear.

“I sometimes like training more than competitions. In training, I can relax and give 100%, even if my skin is bad, I really enjoy it. Sometimes, competitions are stressful for me.”

Having claimed the world lead title at age of 17 in 2016, her hunger for success shows no sign of letting up.

“I want to be strong all the time, I want to be better every year. So maybe I won’t get tired of competitions,” she told innsbruck2018.com

Olympic horizons

Sport Climbing will make its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

“Like every athlete, this is a big goal for me,” Garnbret admitted.

The new Olympic sport is likely to be a hit in Japan, where the sport enjoys a healthy fan base.

Tomoa Narasake, Kokoro Fujii and Garnbret's rival in Austria Akiyo Noguchi will all be hoping to land sport climbing's first Olympic gold on their home turf.

Forty athletes comprising 20 men and 20 women will compete in a format combining lead, bouldering and speed events.

The six climbers with the lowest multiplication total from the three disciplines will go through to the final before competing again in the same way to decide the medals.

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