New Olympic Dream: S. African sport climbers endeavor to make debut at Tokyo Olympics in 2020
In South Africa, sport climbing is still an up and coming activity with very little funding and limited facilities. But for South African climbers, the incentive to qualify for and compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games is a great motivator to take climbing to the next level. CGTN's Julie Scheier has more.
Sports Climbing is set to make its debut as an Olympic sport at Tokyo 2020. In South Africa, the sport is still far from international standards, but these climbers are optimistic they can qualify for the 2020 showpiece.
ALISTER FENTON, CLIMBING HEAD COACH 2018 YOUTH OLYMPICS "In terms of international climbing, South Africa we are not very close to the top but we can sort of hold our own in the individual disciplines. The issue that African climbers are having at the moment is that the Africa Cup is not being recognised as an Africa Cup because it is only climbers from South Africa that are competing despite the rest of Africa being invited."
JULIE SCHEIER JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA "Sports Climbing is still considered a fringe sport but now that the International Olympic Committee has included it in the upcoming 2020 Games in Tokyo, the dream of becoming an Olympian has come true for climbers."
ANGELA ECKHARDT 2018 YOUTH OLYMPIAN "I think for South Africa, at the moment, the hopes are high. All of our youngsters in the right age bracket are training really very hard, and we all are obviously wanting to win that continental competition but in terms of how the sport is in South Africa, it does not look very promising. I don't know if we will manage to have a representative at 2020. I think 2024 will be a little bit more realistic for our country."
As a South African Climber, there are two avenues to qualify for Tokyo. One is to win the Africa Cup and qualify as Continental champion, the other is to compete in Europe in the International Federation of Sport Climbing circuit and accumulate enough points to qualify.
NICHOLAS MEINEL PROTEA CLIMBER "Our strength is quite on power with the rest of the world but what we need to work on is our mentality in competitions. There is quite a few climbers here that train as hard as they can. They break themselves day by day. But just based on experience and the lack of facilities here, we can't get that extra edge at the moment."
Despite the lack of proper training facilities, international competition and coaching, these climbers believe they're catching up to the rest of the world and dreaming of Tokyo 2020. Julie Scheier, CGTN, Johannesburg, South Africa.