Olympic Qualifier Series Results


After initial tickets to the Paris Olympics were granted at last year's World Championships and regional events (Oceania for New Zealand), the final entries have been up for grabs in recent weeks at a series of two competitions, held in Shanghai and Budapest.

 No tickets were granted for a result at one of these comps, rather, placing points were evenly distributed between the two competitions and athletes would need to be in the top 12 places after the two competitions to have a chance to go to Paris.

 Complicating this picture is that the two athletes per gender per country rule still applies, so where an athlete had already qualified, only one place would remain for their compatriots. For example, this meant there were no places available for Japanese men, with both Tomoa Narasaki and Sorato Anraku qualifying directly from the World Championships, hence no Japanese men were competing in these Olympic Qualifier Series competitions. Likewise for USA men, with Colin Duffy and Jesse Grupper already qualified. For the women, there was no country with both places already filled, but Slovenia, Austria, USA, France and Australia already had one athlete going to the games and so limited to just one more.

A good result in Shanghai meant that an athlete likely was through, but they still needed to turn up at the Budapest comp and not completely bomb out. With the Olympic tickets so prized, it has been fascinating watching and emotions have been high for all involved.

In Shanghai, the physical toll of the combined format really showed. Athletes who made finals competed in a boulder and lead round each day, for three days in a row to make it through qualification, semi finals and then finals. In the day of finals it is clear in the bouldering that many struggle with destroyed skin and by the lead round later in the day that exhaustion limits their performance. For Sam Avezou (FRA) this was manifested in devastating fashion, as a careless foot slip on the opening moves of the lead route saw him fall and record a zero score. This left him last in the final, his compatriot Paul Jenft finishing well above him in fourth. France had two men's places available and with initial favourite Mejdi Schalck failing to progress from the semi final by the barest of margins, all three remaining in striking distance of each other at the second round in Budapest. 

Dohyun Lee (KOR) finished first in Shanghai, with Tokyo gold medallist Alberto Gines Lopez (SPA) finding form after a quiet few years to finish second. He beat fan favourite Adam Ondra (CZE) by just four decimal places (this equates to one attempt extra per boulder across four boulders). Ondra surprisingly won the boulder round in the final, the only climber with two tops, but was disappointing by his own high standards in the lead. The other finalists were Sascha Lehmann (SUI) 5th, Hannes van Duysen (BEL) 6th and Hamish Macarthur (GBR) 7th. Others to miss the final, but in with a chance if they performed better in Budapest were Yannick Flohe (9th) and Alex Megos (12th) of Germany and Nicolas Collin (BEL) in 11th.

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In the women's event, Brooke Raboutou (USA) put in an impressive performance, finishing second in the earlier rounds and then moving well ahead of the rest of the field in the final bouldering round. In this round, all athletes but one topped the first and the third boulder, while none topped the fourth boulder. Raboutou's separation came from topping boulder two, where no other athlete even reached the second (10pt) zone. In the lead round, she placed fourth equal and despite a great performance from Korea's Chaeyun Seo, this was enough for the overall win. Seo was second, with a surprise performance across both disciplines lifting great Britain's Erin McNeice to third. With just one spot available for Japanese women, Miho Nonaka and Futaba Ito were in a straight out duel for the spot and finished 4th and 5th. Ievgenia Kazbekova (UKR), Zhilu Luo (CHN) and Zeliz Avezou (FRA) were the rest of the final field.

In Budapest, the finalists from Shanghai had essentially booked a ticket if they again made finals and there was a palpable reduction of tension after the semi final round once many athletes had done enough to go to Paris. Individual results at the competition became secondary to this, though Brooke Raboutou was again the class of the field, finishing second in the boulder final and first equal in lead, to once again take 1st. Miho Nonaka distanced herself from Futaba Ito by making the final (Ito was 10th in the semi, missing the final by two places) and with the pressure off climbed impressively, placing 1st in the boulder round and tying up second place. Erin McNeice again finished on the podium with consistent scores across both disciplines. Also through to Paris were repeat finalists Chaeyun Seo, Ievgenia Kazbekova and Zhilu Luo. Italy's Laura Rogoroa made the final to book her ticket, while her compatriot Camilla Moroni  also earned a place after finishes of 9th and 13th. Mia Krampl (SLO) made the final in Budapest after a disappointing 12th in Shanghai and will join Janja Garnbret in Paris. Other athletes whose semifinal placings were enough to get them to Paris are Zelia Avezou, Lucia Dorffel (GER) and Molly Thompson-Smith (GBR).

In the men's final in Budapest there was a similar easing of nerves, as all the finalists had now done enough to make the Olympics. That is, all but the french. With Paul Jenft not making the final, he could be overtaken and miss out if both Schalck and Avezou finished in the top 3. If they placed outside of the top 3, Jenft would go and be joined by whoever placed higher between the two finalists. In the end, Azevou overcame the jitters that did him in during the lead round at Shanghai. In a savagely hard boulder round with only four tops total, Avezou was one of the four to top the last boulder and went into the lead round in 1st. Schalck's lead climbing has improved massively, but as a boulder specialist he would have been disappointed to go into the lead round with a 15 point deficit. While he climbed well to finish 6th, it was Avezou who won the day and the ticket with a sparkling lead performance giving him 1st place. Schalck was overtaken by four other climbers, leaving him 6th and thereby granting the Olympic place to Jenft, who watched on as his friend and training partner couldn't do enough to deny him a place in Paris.

The other finalists Dohyun Lee, Adam Ondra, Hannes van Duysen, Alberto Gines Lopez, Alex Megos and Yannick Flohe all qualify. While those from the semis who did well enough to join them are: Great Britain’s Hamish McArthur, Switzerland’s Sascha Lehmann, Slovenia’s Luka Potocar and China’s Pan Yufei.


Many of these athletes will take a well-earned rest after the exhausting process of the Olympic Qualifier series, but some are competing again this weekend at the World Cup in Innsbruck, Austria. Both Lead and Boulder events will be held at this WC round, with previously-qualified athletes like Janja Garnbret competing again as part of their Olympic preparation. After Innsbruck, there are two more World Cup legs at Chamonix and Briancon in France, so there is high level climbing competition action right up until the Olympic Games begin in late July.