IFSC Oceania Qualifier Melbourne 2023

New Zealand will have its first country representatives at an Olympic Games Climbing competition as Julian David and Sarah Tetzlaff win the Speed Oceania qualifiers in Melbourne, Australia.

Youth world champion and Oceania men’s Speed record holder David stayed true to form to claim the Paris 2024 ticket after confidently making his way through the qualification and finals round.

David had to battle past the Australian climber Hayden Barton in the final as the home crowd did their best to roar him on to victory. David eventually triumphed with a time of 6.77 compared to Barton’s 7.50, and despite the rivalry received a warm reception from the onlooking crowd.

David said: “I cannot believe it. I’ve dreamed of all sorts of outcomes. I’ve woken up at night thinking ‘o man what if this happens’ and it has actually happened so it’s absolutely surreal.

“I have a bit of an off season now for two months and then I will hit 2024 in full training and see what I can come out with at the end. I’ll stay and train in NZ for most of it, but I may go over to France about a month before and do some training there, try to pick up some tips and just go for it at the Olympics.” 

Having to settle for silver, Barton did have a slip in the final which allowed David a moment at the top to celebrate before actually hitting the pad for his win, something which he admits was very spur of the moment: “I will admit there was a bit too much excitement that kicked in and I definitely shouldn’t have done that, but I just couldn’t resist, so I celebrated, then went for it and hit the pad.”

There was another New Zealand climber on the podium as Flynn Chisholm beat Australian Dylan Marlow in the small final after Marlow fell. Chisholm clocked a time of 7.09.

Full men’s results here David will have a teammate in Paris as Tetzlaff won a close final against the home climber Grace Crowley posting the best time of the competition when it really mattered.

Crowley was the fastest in qualification and was looking good through the finals rounds, but Tetzlaff was inspired to beat her rival with a time of 8.54 compared to Crowley’s 8.88, who had to settle for silver.

Tetzlaff said: “I’m not sure how I feel. I think it’s going to take a while for this to sink in. It’s just surreal and unexpected, so I’m just not sure how to feel.

“The final was incredibly close, and I didn’t think I had it to be honest. Anything can happen in Speed is the classic saying and our coach says that all the time, so you just have to treat every run as an individual run that you do in training. Forget about the last one, forget about the next one and just go hard.”

There has been a lot of emotion from the Paris 2024 ticket winners, and Tetzlaff was no different, both during and after the racing: “There was a lot of emotional things happening that I had to push aside, and it worked out, but it is so unexpected. I’m going to the Games, it’s nuts, I don’t even know what that means, my brain can’t understand it.”

There was once again another New Zealand climber on the podium in third as Abby Gebert beat compatriot Jorja Rangi in the small final in another closer race. Gebert tapped at 9.17 compared to Rangi’s 9.53.

Full women’s results here


Julian David and Sarah Tetzlaff (both NZL) celebrate their Speed Olympic qualification Photo: Victor Hall/IFSC