Competition climbing has been around for a while now, but as sport climbing is making its debut at the Olympics, I thought I’d list the best competition climbers today. The list isn’t going to be in any particular order and I’m also going to include each climber’s favored type of competition climbing, whether it’s lead climbing, bouldering, or speed climbing. I’ve arrived at the decision to choose these 8 climbers because of their placements in competitions in recent years, including the ongoing competitions such as the 2019 IFSC World Cup and 2019 Climbing World Championships. Anyway, let’s get on with the list.
- Janja Garnbret
- Adam Ondra
- Shauna Coxsey
- Tomoa Narasaki
- Jakob Schubert
- YiLing Song
- Akiyo Noguchi
- Miho Nonaka
Janja Garnbret is a Slovenian competition climber and is probably the best female competition climber in the World today specifically in the disciplines of Lead climbing and Bouldering. From 2016 to 2018 she came in first place at the Climbing World Cup in Lead Climbing and Combined, and ended up in second place for Bouldering in 2017. In 2019 she took first place in Bouldering at the World Cup where achieved something no one has ever been able to do before in competition climbing – she won 6 events out of 6, solving 74 out of 78 problems.
In August 2019, she took the Gold in Bouldering and Lead Climbing at the World Championships in Japan.
Adam Ondra is a Czech climber who has consistently shown over many years that he’s one of the best climbers in the world at Bouldering and Lead Climbing. He’s also made the first ascent of some of the hardest climbs in the world. He’s been the winner of the Lead Climbing, Bouldering, and Combined disciplines at many IFSC Climbing World Cups in 2009, 2010, and 2015. In 2019 he took second place in Bouldering.
At the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo, Ondra showed his Lead Climbing skills and took the gold medal. He’s previously taken 4 gold medals at the World Championships since 2011 in Lead Climbing, Bouldering and Overall. He’s also taken a few silver medals including the Lead Climbing and Combined silver medals in 2018.
Shauna Coxsey MBE is a female competition climber from England. In 2016 and 2017 she came in first place at the IFSC Climbing World Cup in the discipline of Bouldering. She also came in third place in the 2017 Climbing World Cup in the Combined discipline. Between 2014 and 2017 she won 11 gold medals in Bouldering at the World Cup.
In 2013 Coxsey sent her first 8B (aka V13) bouldering problem after topping “Nuthin’ But Sunshine”.In 2014 she narrowly missed the top spot at the IFSC Bouldering World Cup finishing in second place overall. Later that year she would become the third woman to ever send a bouldering problem rated 8B+ (aka V14) after topping “New Baseline” in Magic Wood. She’s the first ever British female to climb V12, V13, and V14 rated boulders. In 2016, she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) at the birthday honors for her services to climbing.
In August 2019 the Climbing World Championships took place in Japan, and Coxsey won a Bronze Medal for Bouldering, becoming the first ever Brit to take a medal at the World Championships.
Tomoa Narasaki is a Japanese competition climber who specialises in Bouldering. He has been in first and second place many times between 2016 and 2019 at the IFSC Climbing World Cup. He won in 2016 and 2019 for Bouldering and he won the 2017 Combined.
He’s also won 2 gold medals at the World Championships for Bouldering – one in 2016 and one in 2019. As he won the 2019 gold at the World Cup and 2019 gold at the World Championships in bouldering, it’s hard to argue against him being the best Bouldering competition climber in the world at this very moment.
Jakob Schubert is an Austrian competition climber who has been competing at the adult level of competition climbing since 2011. In this time he’s been the winner of 7 disciplines at the World Cup and 3 World Championship gold medals. He’s also taken a few silver and bronze medals. Jakob is always showing that he belongs near the top of the rankings as one of the best competition Lead climbers and Boulderers in the world.
In the 2019 World Championships, Schubert took the silver medal in Bouldering and the bronze medal in Lead Climbing.
YiLing Song is a Chinese competition climber who specialises at Speed Climbing. In 2019 she set the women’s Speed Climbing World Record with a time of 7.101 seconds, beating the previous world record of 7.32 seconds. She has currently taken 3 gold medals at the 2019 IFSC Climbing World Cup in Speed Climbing.
Akiyo Noguchi is a Japanese competition climber who specialises in bouldering. She has consistently shown over the last few years that she’s the second best female boulderer in the world, taking silver medals in most bouldering competitions. She took the silver medal at the 2018 and 2019 World Cup, and the 2018 and 2019 World Championships.
Miho Nonaka is a Japanese competition climber who specialises in Bouldering. She won the 2018 IFSC World Cup in Bouldering when she was just 21 years old. In 2016 she took the silver in the IFSC World Championships in bouldering. When she was just 9 years old, her father and sister introduced her to climbing which would change her life forever. She’s now in training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which means she has had to start focusing on lead and speed climbing.
In 2019 Nonaka has been nursing a shoulder injury which has left her in a bad spot. I’ve included Miho on this list because she’s shown that she was one of the best boulderers last year, and as long as she gets through her injury I think she’ll show that again.