With pages upon pages of detailed rules, the Olympic selection process for Sport Climbing is confusing at best. The most ambiguous part is the Tripartite invitation: though meant to give athletes from less competitive countries a chance to participate in the Olympics, it looks like American Nathaniel Coleman could end up with that spot.
20 athletes per gender will qualify for Sport Climbing in Tokyo 2020. No more than two athletes per country may qualify. One spot per gender goes to what’s known as the “Tripartite Commission Invitation Place.
The Tripartite spot is meant to enhance the Olympics’ universal appeal by giving small or disadvantaged countries representation. Athletes eligible for this spot were to be selected from athletes at the Hachioji Combined World Championships. Only one athlete that attended the World Championships qualified to apply for the Tripartite selection: Zàhéér Ahmád from Pakistan.
The IFSC paid part of Ahmád’s way to the Combined World Championships with the sole purpose of giving him the opportunity to vie for that Olympic spot. His accommodation fees were also covered by IFSC.
Ahmád has had little World Cup experience— he’s only competed in the 2016 Xiamen World Cup, where he placed 31st in Speed and 39th in Bouldering. In Hachioji, Ahmád placed 85th in Bouldering (no zones and no tops) and 96th in Speed (false start). Unfortunately, he did not participate in Lead.
“I am devastated if I just participated in Lead my dream would come true, which would definitely changed my life forever,” said Ahmád in an interview with 8a.nu. Ahmád was unaware of the fact the he needed to participate in all three disciplines to qualify.
Since Ahmád was the only Tripartite candidate that could have qualified, the Tripartite invitation will be unused. Section F of the IFSC Olympic Qualification System states:
“If the Tripartite Commission is not able to allocate a Tripartite Commission Invitation Place, it will be reallocated to the next highest placed athlete, not yet qualified, in the Combined World Championships 2019, respecting the maximum quota per gender per Nationality of Competitors.”
That leaves us to speculate which athlete, from the Combined World Championships, may receive that final invitation. On the women’s side, the next highest spot is Anouck Jaubert (FRA). On the men’s side, the next highest placed athlete is Yannick Flohé (GER) in 11th place. Alex Megos, also from Germany, already qualified. Assuming Jan Hojer (GER) qualifies for the Olympics in the next qualifying event, then Germany will have reached the maximum quota. This means the invite will be passed to the next highest athlete in 12th place, Nathaniel Coleman (USA).
The next Olympic Qualifying event is November 28 in Toulouse, France. If Hojer qualifies, then it is likely we will have at least one more American, in addition to Brooke Raboutou, invited to the 2020 Olympics. Our fingers are crossed…
Feature Image by Eddie Fowke/IFSC