CLIMBING OLYMPIC QUALIFICATION DOWN UNDER FOR FOUR MORE PARIS 2024 TICKETS
Olympic qualification is once again in focus this weekend for the IFSC as Melbourne, Australia hosts the Oceania qualifier event where four Paris 2024 tickets will be claimed.
Sixty-three climbers hailing from the home nation Australia, New Zealand and Guam will fight it out at Urban Climb Blackburn for spots in the summer showpiece with the winners of both the men’s and women’s Boulder & Lead and Speed disciplines booking their place in the French capital next year.
The Oceania region has a range of experience with athletes who already have an Olympics appearance under their belt, to world champions, to international competition novices; so, it will be a fascinating event to watch unfold.
Boasting the Olympic experience is the aptly named Oceania Mackenzie. Known simply as ‘Oce’, Mackenzie will look to put her World Cup involvement into practice in her quest to become a two-time Olympian.
Talking about the event Mackenzie said: “I'm feeling excited to compete in Australia again with my friends, it will be nice to do a competition so close to home, being able to stay in my own bed before a big comp will be great.
“Training has been great this year. I was overseas for a lot of it training in Europe and Asia, which was super fun.”
When it comes to Climbing in general in her homeland, Mackenzie said: “I would say Climbing is growing a huge amount in Australia for commercial climbers, but it hasn't moved a whole lot in terms of high performance. There are lots of motivated people getting involved now though, which is promising.”
Mackenzie is one of 20 competitors in the women’s Boulder & Lead and will be joined by teammates Maya Stasiuk and Roxy Perry who both have World Cup experience from the 2023 season.
After some lean years of international competition for the region due to COVID restrictions in Oceania, Kiwi climbers Rebecca Hounsell and Isabella Domaneschi did make their IFSC World Cup debuts in Koper, Slovenia, this year in preparation for this qualifier with Domaneschi saying at the time that having a World Cup event under her belt would definitely help her perform better in this qualifier.
Guam is the other nation to compete in Melbourne with all three of their climbers participating for the first time on the international stage. The country only recently joining the IFSC helping to take the total to 100 countries. By joining, that has enabled their athletes to take part in competition and be in with a shot at Paris. Read more about Guam’s National Federation IFSC Membership entry here.
Victoria Ysrael will compete in the women’s Boulder & Lead competition with Michael Quitugua and Allen Lactaoen competing in the men’s for the Western Pacific Island.
Some of the names Quitugua and Lactaoen will be up against are Australia’s Campbell Harrison, who has primarily focussed on Lead in 2023 but did compete in Boulder at the IFSC World Championships in Bern, and New Zealand’s George Sanders who has Oceania Continental Championships & Oceania Youth Championships medals to his name in both the Boulder and Lead disciplines.
Competing for New Zealand in the Speed discipline is the Oceania Speed record holder Julian David. David has been lowering the region’s time during 2023 and also took home the Youth World Championships title from Seoul just a few months ago.
Talking about the upcoming event and his year so far, David said: “I’m very excited. I’ve been training and aiming for this event since the beginning of 2021, and I can’t wait.
“This year has been much better than expected as I’ve had huge improvements in my times and consistency. I’ve gained lots of experience at all my international competitions and had an amazing season achieving Junior world champion & Oceania record holder.”
With so much on the line at this event, what would it mean if David got that much coveted Olympic spot?
“This is our pinnacle event in the sport so to be able to qualify for the Olympics would really be a dream come true. For New Zealand it would really be a huge step forward in paving the way for the future athletes of the sport and it’s an honour to be at the forefront of it all proving that it’s possible.”
David’s record time is 5.80 and he is one of the six New Zealand climbers taking on the ten home nation competitors in the men’s Speed. Hayden Barton has the quickest personal best of the Australian athletes, just behind David at 6.22, and he also has Youth Worlds, World Cup and World Championships experience he hopes to call upon in a competition where you have to keep your nerves in check.
For the women, it’s a 50-50 split as five climbers from Australia will go up against five from New Zealand. Grace Crowley was flying the flag for Australia at the IFSC World Championships 2023 while three New Zealander’s were in Switzerland – Jorja Rangi, Abby Gebert and Sarah Tetzlaff – and all will be hoping that experience can take them all the way to Paris.
The action begins Friday 24 November with the semi-final round of the men’s and women’s Boulder & Lead and ends Sunday 26 November with the men’s and women’s Speed after which four more names will be added to the Paris 2024 Sport Climbing start list.
Julian David in action at the IFSC Youth World Championships 2023 in Seoul, South Korea
Photo: Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC