HARRISON JOINS OLYMPIAN MACKENZIE ON THE PLANE TO PARIS
Two more names have been added to the Paris 2024 Boulder & Lead start lists, and they belong to the Australian climbers Oceania Mackenzie and Campbell Harrison.
Mackenzie won the women’s competition at the Oceania qualifier in Melbourne, Australia to ensure she will become a two-time Olympian with teammate Harrison set to make his Olympic debut next year after winning the men’s competition.
Tokyo 2020 participant Mackenzie was the one to beat with a wealth of experience already on the international stage and at IFSC World Cup events, and she did not let the occasion get to her producing a near perfect score of 199.9pts out of the possible 200 on offer.
With just over a 20-point buffer going into the Lead round from Boulder, Mackenzie secured her Paris spot with a top in the final climb of the competition to round off an impressive climbing display in style.
Mackenzie said: “I’m super excited to go to Paris. I had a great time competing here at home with all my family around, so I’m feeling pretty good right now.
“There’s two things I am looking forward to at the Games. Watching other sports is one because we didn’t get the chance to do that at the last Olympics, and secondly preparing properly. Because of the lockdowns my preparations last time around were not very enjoyable and not what I had wanted. A crowd as well is definitely going to bring up the vibes.”
Maya Stasiuk was just behind her teammate in both Boulder and Lead to finish second overall with 155.7pts.
Emily Scott joined her compatriots on the podium in third overall with 129.1pts. Scott was third in the Boulder round and third in the Lead round.
Australia’s Roxy Perry was just off the podium in fourth with 102.0pts, Atako Nakamura was fifth with 78.7pts and Judith Carroll sixth with 74.6pts to ensure a strong finish for the home nation.
New Zealand’s Amanda Speed was seventh overall with 61.4pts and unfortunately teammate Rebecca Hounsell didn’t get an opportunity to show what she could do as she was ruled out of the final with Covid.
Full women’s results here
In the men’s competition, Harrison booked his ticket to Paris with an emotional outpouring at the top of the Lead route, and with one climber still to go.
By topping the route, and the only climber to do so, he had amassed a score of 154.1pts which was out of reach for the final climber, teammate Maxim Pare.
Harrison said: “It all feels quite surreal. The moment I realised I had qualified it all came out. Years and years of so much hard work, moments of doubt, moments of confidence and everything in-between. I don’t think there are any words that can fully summarise exactly what I am feeling.
“I didn’t know the scores, and I never really want to. Even at a World Cup I don’t want to know. The emotion at the top of the Lead wall was just a release for me and it wasn’t until I was on the way down from the reaction of the crowd, I knew had done something special. I saw my mum crying, my dad crying, my boyfriend crying; that’s when I really knew.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Harrison as one particular Boulder had the potential to derail his mission: “I’ve never experienced emotions like this at an event before. It really is all or nothing and I finished the first Boulder and was almost already in tears and had to use all the experience I have to pull myself back in for Boulder two.
“Boulder three I felt was an opportunity for me to gain some points as it was really my style, but it just did not click, I think the pressure of the moment started to weigh on me. But after that I had a much clearer mind and approach, and the Lead route was everything I hoped it would be.”
Despite not gaining a single point on Boulder three, Harrison is now safe in the knowledge this time next year he can call himself an Olympian.
Australia’s Sam Lavender finished second overall with 122.8pts and was leading the group after the Boulder round but couldn’t sustain the push onto Lead.
Dylan Parks was third with 105.2pts and completed the all-Australian podium.
Fourth was Ben Abel of Australia with 87.8pts with Maxim Pare slipping down to fifth overall on 86.0pts. Australia’s Max Thomas was sixth with 63.6pts ahead of the sole New Zealand final participant Oskar Wolff who was seventh with 50.8pts. Joshua Mennell completed the final list in eighth with 46.6pts.
Full men’s results here
Attention now turns to Speed in Melbourne where two more Paris 2024 tickets will be claimed at Urban Climb Blackburn tomorrow.
Campbell Harrison and Oceania Mackenzie celebrate their Boulder & Lead Olympic qualification
Photo: Victor Hall/IFSC