Olympics, Here We Come!

We checked in with our athletes, Chris Cosser and Erin Sterkenburg ahead of their historic Olympic climbing debut.

The moment we have been looking forward to and talking about for the last five years (yes, FIVE YEARS since they announced the addition of Sport Climbing to the Olympics) is almost here.

On Friday 23 July at 1pm SA time, the long-awaited Tokyo games will officially commence in what’s set to be a glorious artistic display that represents Japanese culture and spirit. Sport Climbing kicks off at 10am on Tuesday 3 August, with the medal events taking place on 5 and 6 August.

View the full Olympic schedule 

We checked in with our Olympians, Chris Cosser and Erin Sterkenburg, ahead of this historic occasion…

You recently had some IFSC World Cup experience in Salt Lake City. How was that?

Erin: I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to compete in the two World Cups that happened in Salt Lake City. It was honestly such an amazing experience, and I learnt a lot. It was a little overwhelming for me as my first World Cup, but being surrounded by and competing with such incredible athletes was a highlight. 

Chris: It was great to see some good friends and try to measure up with some of the best in the world. I was a bit disappointed with the position I placed, but that came with my performance and it just shows areas of weakness which makes the process of improvement that much easier. There is so much more to each competition than just climbing the route or problem in front of you. 

How is the training going for the Games? Have you had any breakthrough moments or setbacks?

Erin: Well, right now we are stuck in our homes here in KZN because of the looting… but besides that I think training is going well! I am feeling good and ready to do my best. 

[Note: This interview was conducted during the heat of the riots; thankfully things have calmed down so Erin can get in the best possible mental space!]

Chris: Training is tough. Sometimes I find myself not enjoying it, but it’s currently my profession, so it’s a matter of just not giving up or easing off the gas. Fortunately, I am currently surrounded by a motivated and strong group of people, so even the rough days really aren’t that bad!

I rolled my ankle quite seriously a few weeks ago and wasn’t able to walk on it for a few days. I am now back to near 100% capacity, so I’m super grateful to have healed so quickly. Other than that, it’s just about pushing forward.

Climbing in the USA vs SA – how can we improve?

Erin: We should definitely work towards the international standard of setting and difficulty, we are quite far behind here in SA.

Chris: The biggest difference between SA and the US is exposure; everyone knows about climbing and there are facilities everywhere. As such, there is bigger funding available towards sponsorship, competitions and high performance facilities and training. Unfortunately, money makes the wheels turn, but it’s only a matter of time before climbing gets the exposure it needs in South Africa to make the high-performance investments all worth it. 

Who do you think will take gold?

Erin: I would say potentially Janja Garnbret and Jakob Schubert, maybe? Adam Ondra would be another obvious guess, but you never know!

Chris: You’d be a fool not to back Janja the whole way. The men’s event is a bit more open… Tomoa and Jakob are the two I’m backing, but it really is an explosive event – anyone’s game!

Chris and Erin wanted to say a huge thank you to everything and everyone that has made their Olympic dreams come true, and helped to give them the best training experience in the run up to the games. The support has been incredible, and they feel so proud to hold our SA flag up high at the games. 

We, on the other side, are positively frothing with excitement and wish them the best of luck. This is a moment that will stay with them, and the SA climbing community, for the rest of our lives. All we ask is that they savour every moment and do their best – we are already so proud!  SA competition climbing is but a baby, and a huge growth spurt is on the horizon…

The Insider SA screened a special segment on the 19th of July on SABC3, in celebration of the Olympics and living braver. If you missed it, check out the video below.


Get in on the action!

The Olympics will be made available on SuperSport, and Showmax Pro subscribers will have access to livestreams of every event that is made available to SuperSport by the Olympic Broadcast Services. This includes the opening and closing ceremonies, and every medal event.  

Friends and Allies, CityROCK JHB and CT will be live streaming the below schedule at their facilities.

Sport Climbing Schedule (in SA time): 

Tuesday 3 August

10:00   Men’s Combined, Speed Qualification
11:00   Men’s Combined, Bouldering Qualification
14:10   Men’s Combined, Lead Qualification

Wednesday 4 August

10:00   Women’s Combined, Speed Qualification
11:00   Women’s Combined, Bouldering Qualification
14:10   Women’s Combined, Lead Qualification

Thursday 5 August

10:30   Men’s Combined, Speed Final
11:30   Men’s Combined, Bouldering Final
14:10   Men’s Combined, Lead Final

Friday 6 August

10:30   Women’s Combined, Speed Final
11:30   Women’s Combined, Bouldering Final
14:10   Women’s Combined, Lead Final

Who is your bet to win Sport Climbing’s first Olympic gold medals? Let us know in the comments!


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