Asian Games: High drama of Indonesia’s domination of speed climbing proves sport’s worth for Olympics | Outdoor & Extreme

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Speed climbing is easy to understand and exciting to watch with action from Jakarta going viral on social media, but the format needs fixing

By Mark Agnew

Indonesia dominated the Asian Games’ speed climbing competitions and the high paced action is great news for the sport.

The videos caught the imagination of spectators and some of them went viral, showcasing the sport to a wider audience.

The men’s relay was an all Indonesian affair, as was the women’s individual event. The women’s relay team beat China in the final too, and the country also took home an individual men’s bronze.

Speed climbing is simple – first to the top wins. It is always the same route and the climbers fly up like monkeys.

Sport climbing is in the Asian Games for the first time this year and will make its Olympic debut in Japan.

The easy-to-understand nature of speed climbing and its fast pace made it a great spectacle for the layman.

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In particular, a head to head between a muscle-bound Japanese competitor and a local became a viral video as the Japanese climber was left in the Indonesian’s wake.

One Twitter user even compared her to Spiderman.

The easy to grasp concept will do wonders for participation in climbing.

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There is some gripe among the climbing community though – there are three sport climbing disciplines but rarely do speed climbers mix their art with either of the other two – bouldering and lead climbing – or vice versa.

To many, the three disciplines are different sports, highlighted by the fact that Indonesia were not so competitive in the other events.

But the Asian Games requires climbers to compete in speed climbing or all three.

This leaves boulderers and lead climbers at a disadvantage on the speed walls, and speed climbers lagging behind on the others.

Tokyo 2020 will require climbers to do all three disciplines.

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The combined medals in Indonesia went to Japanese and Korean athletes.

Nonetheless, it is a positive step for climbing and the videos are enough to get you out on the wall.





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