Sport climbing is making its Olympic debut in Tokyo, and with it a chance for people to see the sport’s unbeatable legend: Adam Ondra.
Ondra is to sport climbing’s what Michael Jordan was to basketball. Part athlete, part myth. A man who has so completely dominated the sport since entering international competition that the only hopes for his competition has been hoping he’d slip up. When it comes to beating Ondra it’s less about being better than him, and more hopelessly trying out outlast him.
The myth of Ondra began as a child. Rock climbing magazines began publishing tales of a six-year-old climber in the Czech Republic who was completing routes difficult for adult climbers. By the age of 10 he’d completed a grade 8a ascent, a difficulty score approaching the upper echelons of the climbing’s most difficult challenges.
From there he made it a point of going off the rating scale. As Ondra entered his 20s he’d defeated the toughest rock faces in the world, turning his sights to climbs like “Silence,” located in a Norweigian cave, and previously thought impossible for a human to ascend. Ondra did it.
Those climbs were personal challenges. The represented the zen-like allure of achieving the impossible that was entrancing to Ondra. Away from these attempts came competition, and it that venue he’s proven a juggernaut. Competing in the lead, combined, and bouldering disciplines, Ondra has totaled 20 World Cup gold medals since turning pro in 2013.
The Olympics represent a very different kind of challenge. Custom built walls designed to test the limits of climbers, there was a distinct chance Ondra would miss the Olympics after falling ill during the Czech trials. However, much like Jordan, he managed to put himself on the wall despite being sick, and still managed to earn a place on the Olympic team.
There is absolutely no way the new sport of sport climbing would have legitimacy without Ondra being a part of the games in Tokyo. Now it’s a chance for the world away from climbing enthusiasts to learn Ondra’s legacy, and just how much this 28-year-old has meant to the sport since turning pro.
How to watch Adam Ondra in Tokyo
- Men’s Combined Speed Qualifying: Tuesday, August 3 at 4:00 a.m. ET
- Men’s Combined Bouldering Qualifying: Tuesday, August 3 at 5:00 a.m. ET
- Men’s Combined Speed Finals: Thursday, August 5 at 4:00 a.m. ET
- Men’s Combined Bouldering Finals: Thursday, August 5 at 5:00 a.m. ET