Sport climbing's Kyra Condie defies the odds to qualify for Tokyo 2020
The American took her nation's third Olympic berth out of four at the IFSC Combined Qualifier in Tournefeuille-Toulouse, France, where she reached the final.
With sport climbing making its Olympic debut in Japan, athletes have the extra incentive of becoming their sport's first Olympic champion.
Defeating the odds
When Condie was just 13-years-old, she underwent spinal fusion surgery for idiopathic scoliosis, meaning she had a severely curved back.
Despite multiple medical professionals telling the teenager that her climbing days were over, the surgeon she eventually proceeded with thought that she could return.
A decade on, he was proved correct, as Condie qualified for the United States' first Olympic sport climbing team.
Her achievement came a day after compatriot Nathaniel Coleman clinched the second place on the U.S. team in France.
The 22-year-old was seventh in the eight-man final, where only the top six finishers qualify for Tokyo 2020.
But as two of the other finalists were Japanese, and the Olympic host nation had already maxed out its qualifying berths at the World Championships in August, Coleman was promoted.
Other qualifiers from France
Other Olympic qualifiers from the event in southern France include Czech climber Adam Ondra, who was the top men's qualifier, and Chinese 19-year-old Pan Yufei, who finished sixth in the men's finals.
The youngest qualifier so far is Spanish 17-year-old Alberto Ginés, who finished an impressive third overall.
Men's finalist Jan Hojer became the second German climber to qualify for the Olympics, while Frenchman and home hero Bassa Mawem booked his place at Tokyo, courtesy of a first-place finish in the men's speed event. Mawem joins his brother Mickael in qualifying for the Games.
The first women's qualifying place in Toulouse went to Laura Rogora of Italy.
There was a huge cheer for local favourite Julia Chanourdie, as the French athlete qualified, and beat Japanese Futaba Ito to second place on the podium .
Russian Yulia Kaplina came out on top in women's speed qualification, and third place on the podium overall.
China's Song Yiling is through to Tokyo 2020, despite failing to qualify for the finals in Toulouse. The 18-year-old still progressed, as two higher-placed Japanese athletes missed out due to the Olympic hosts already having a full representation at the Games.
The final qualifying berth from France went to Slovenia's Mia Krampl.
August's World Championships qualifiers
The latest Olympic qualifiers in France join the seven highest-placed athletes per gender at August's IFSC Climbing World Championships Combined in Hachioji (with a maximum of two per country), in receiving invitations for Tokyo 2020.
Men’s World Championships qualifiers:
Tomoa Narasaki (JPN), Jakob Schubert (AUT), Rishat Khaibullin (KAZ), Kai Harada (JPN), Mickael Mawem (FRA), Alexander Megos (GER), Ludovico Fossali (ITA) and Sean McColl (CAN).
Women’s World Championships qualifiers:
Janja Garnbret (SLO), Akiyo Noguchi (JPN), Shauna Coxsey (GBR), Aleksandra Miroslaw (POL), Miho Nonaka (JPN), Petra Klingler (SUI), Brooke Raboutou (USA) and Jessica Pilz (AUT).
New Sport on the Block 2020: Sport Climbing
New Sport on the Block 2020: Sport ClimbingClimbing will be one of five new competitions at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Final chances to qualify...
For those climbers that have yet to book their place to Tokyo 2020, these are their final qualifying opportunities:
- Feb 27-Mar 1: Los Angeles, Pan American qualifiers
- April 16-18: Moscow, European Championships
- April 18-19: Sydney, Oceania Championships
- May 1-3: Johannesburg,African Championships
- May 18-14: Morioka, Asia Championships
One of the athletes who will be pinning her final Olympic hopes on these regional qualifiers is Indonesia's Aries Susanti, who holds the speed climbing world record.