Garnbret retains Combined title at sport climbing world champs to confirm status as Tokyo 2020 favourite

Slovenian claims women's crown in the Olympic discipline for her third gold medal of the IFSC event in Hachioji

Janja Garnbret retained her Combined world title on Tuesday (20th August) to confirm her status as the best women's sport climber on the planet.

The Slovenian, who booked her spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with her qualifying performance on Sunday, had been fourth overall after the Speed and Bouldering disciplines of the Combined final in Hachioji, Japan.

But Garnbret's performance in the final discipline, Lead, sealed the victory.

Akiyo Noguchi finished runner-up and qualified for Tokyo 2020 in the process.

Shauna Coxsey, who led after qualifying, took home bronze for Great Britain.

The Combined victory is the third crown of the 2019 IFSC World Championships for Garnbret, who earlier this week became the first woman to win bouldering and lead titles at the same World Championships

The Combined event will be contested at Tokyo 2020, where sport climbing is in the Olympics for the first time.

The victory keeps Garnbret as an early favourite for the gold medal at those Games, and ensures she'll return to Japan as world champion.

Garnbret told Olympic Channel after the final that her efforts earlier in the championships, which started on 11 August, had taken a toll on her.

“After the combined qualification, I was very tired mentally and physically and I didn’t expect nothing coming into the combined finals but I really enjoyed it,” she said.

In those finals on Tuesday, the Slovenian was sixth in speed and second in bouldering, leaving her in fourth place going into the lead.

“I kept my head calm. I didn’t have the best start in speed, I didn’t have the best start in bouldering but I enjoyed every single round.” - Janja Garnbret

Garnbret was the fastest climber to top the Lead route, which sealed her victory.

”It’s been a crazy season,” Garnbret added. “I qualified for the Olympics which is amazing and of course I will celebrate today.

“I don’t have any pressure because I really want to climb at the Olympics next year and I’ll be prepared as best as possible. I’ll just enjoy it. I really want to win an Olympic medal and hopefully, I will.”

Janja Garnbret celebrates on podium after winning sport climbing Combined world title on Tuesday 20th August 2019 in Japan (IMAGE: IFSC/Eddie Fowke)
Janja Garnbret celebrates on podium after winning sport climbing Combined world title on Tuesday 20th August 2019 in Japan (IMAGE: IFSC/Eddie Fowke)Janja Garnbret celebrates on podium after winning sport climbing Combined world title on Tuesday 20th August 2019 in Japan (IMAGE: IFSC/Eddie Fowke)

Only two of the eight finalists reached the top in Lead, although Japan's Akiyo Noguchi just failed to grasp the final hold which would have seen her snatch gold.

Noguchi managed to qualify for Tokyo 2020 as the best-ranked Japanese climber in what was the last world championships of her career.

The veteran had already announced she would retire next year, but revealed that had she not booked her spot at the Games on Tuesday, she may not have kept competing through the remaining Olympic qualification events.

“I had my mind set on retiring at a tournament in Japan,” Noguchi said during a press conference. “If I couldn’t qualify here, I wasn’t sure whether I would go to France.

“I really had no plans beyond today so I’m over the moon I can keep competing for another year, and it’s going to be an intense year.

“These world championships were so long. I felt good all week and I didn’t want to ruin it by making a mistake at the end. That’s what I was worried about. But I kind of surprised myself, being able to rev up my performance when I had to.”

Coxsey also had a chance at the gold medal but just fell short.

She led through the first two disciplines but a seventh placed finish in the lead saw her pick up bronze.

Still, Coxsey’s performance throughout these championships – in which she qualified for the Olympics and became the first British female to win a medal at the climbing worlds with bronze in bouldering – gave her plenty to look forward to for next year, evidenced by the smile she wore on her face all week.

“It was really hard out there, doing all three disciplines back-to-back-to-back,” Coxsey told Olympic Channel. “It’s very fatiguing but it was so much fun. It was a really good competition.

“I had no idea what to expect coming into this competition, I didn’t expect to qualify in first place. Going into any competition it’s kind of impossible to predict what’s going to happen, especially with the combined, the way the multiplication of each round works so you just have no idea.

“It’s been a blur this week. I haven’t processed any of it yet. I think when I get home maybe I’ll be able to answer that question but right now, I can’t. I’m still soaking it in.”

The world championships conclude with the men's combined final on Wednesday, live on Olympic Channel (territorial restrictions apply)

Enjoyed this story? Share it with your friends!