Britains’ finest rock climbing prospects have gathered at Westway Sports and Fitness Centre to celebrate the news that their sport will be included in the Olympic Games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on the eve of the Rio Olympics (Wednesday August 3) that Sport Climbing will be included in the 2020 Tokyo games.
It will see athletes from around the world participate in three disciplines - bouldering, lead climbing and speed.
It follows years of lobbying by the International Federation of Sport Climbing which was supported by the British Mountaineering Council (BMC).
To celebrate, young climbers who hope to represent Great Britain at the sport in four years' time gathered at Westway’s indoor climbing wall , which is regarded as among the best in the country.
Among those hopefuls at the sports centre to mark the good news was bouldering world champion Shauna Coxsey, teenage competitive climbing sensation Molly Thompson-Smith , and fellow Olympic hopeful Alexia Basch.
The news is especially exciting for Molly, who lives just two minutes away from Westway in Cambridge Gardens. The 18-year-old, who is preparing for university, has been climbing for 11 years.
She is captain of the GB Climbing Team and the UK’s No 1 lead climber in both the senior women’s and junior female categories.
She said: “It’s so exciting to see this become an Olympic sport, it’s kind of crazy. I never thought this sport would see Olympic status.
“I would like to have the opportunity to compete, but it’s great to see climbing in the Olympics whether I’m there or not.
“But it’s nice to have an objective in the distance that I can aim things towards.”
Alexia, 17, also trains regularly at the centre, which is run by Westway Trust , travelling from her home in Wimbledon three times a week.
She said: “This is exciting because every time someone asks if I’m going to be in the Olympics, I can now say ‘maybe’.
“Just to train and compete in an Olympic sport would be quite cool.”
Also present was Rob Abie, competitions officer at BMC. He said the Olympic announcement is great news for Westway, other climbing centres and the sport.
“It’s going to change the competition side of the sport quite dramatically," he said.
"By becoming an Olympic sport hopefully we will become eligible for UK Sports funding. That provision is not there at the moment.”
“Hopefully it will become more popular and have a big impact on indoor climbing. Hopefully it will see more facilities opening and encourage more people to get involved in climbing and it’s many facets.”
Check out Westway's website for more information on the climbing walls or call 020 8969 0992.