TOKYO—Slovenian champion Janja Garnbret claimed the first gold medal in women’s climbing on Friday, solidifying her dominance in the field, as the sport’s debut appearance at the Olympic Games this week drew to a close.
Japan’s Miho Nonaka claimed silver, while senior compatriot Akiyo Noguchi took home the bronze in her final appearance as a competitive climber.
Garnbret, widely favored for gold ahead of the Games, was masterful throughout the competition, triumphing in Wednesday’s qualifier before crushing her rivals in the final to secure the victory.
The 22-year-old, who has won multiple world championships in various climbing disciplines, emerged fifth of eight finalists in the opening speed event—a head-to-head race up a 15 meter (49 foot) wall—but took pole position after a first-rate display in the bouldering section.
The contest, where climbers use problem-solving skills to scale a series of obstacles, exposed the gap between Garnbret and the rest of the field, with the Slovenian alone managing to reach the top in two of the three bouldering challenges, while the others failed to solve even one.
She continued her fine form in the deciding lead section, reaching the 37th hold, the highest climb of the night.
The combined score, a multiplication of rankings across the three events, confirmed her finish atop of the podium.
Japan’s Nonaka and Noguchi put on consistent performances across all three sections to place second and third.
Noguchi’s Olympic bronze medal caps more than a decade-long career in professional climbing for the 32-year-old, who has won multiple bouldering World Cups and continued to rank highly in the discipline as she heads into retirement.
On Thursday, Spanish teenager Alberto Gines Lopez clinched the sport’s first gold in a gripping men’s final, while silver went to Nathaniel Coleman of the United States and bronze to Austria’s Jakob Schubert.
By Rozanna Latiff