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Adam Ondra: The Road to Tokyo

Thursday, April 18, 2019
BD Athlete Adam Ondra is arguably the best rock climber in the world. He’s climbed the hardest sport routes and big-walls and has sent multiple V16’s. In the past, he’s also been dedicated to competition climbing—a format he has excelled in, with countless podiums and world championships—but recently his focus has been on the real stone. However, with the competition scene entering the big stage during the 2020 Olympics, Ondra has decided to give everything to indoor climbing in hopes of taking home the gold. The first big test? Next month’s IFSC World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria. Check out this video that documents Ondra’s recent training on the long road to Tokyo.
Video: Petr Pavlicek

Ondra On Climbing

There is just one reason why I climb. Because I love it.

But there are many different reasons why I love climbing. I love the challenge of climbing, of finding hard routes, training for it, and overcoming the obstacles. I love the mental part of it too, the way I feel when I am up there on the rock. I also enjoy all the other aspects that come with climbing—such as traveling, being outdoors, sleeping in the van. I just love it all. Climbing offers such a variety of experiences that I will never get tired of.

It is hard to pick one moment in climbing that would be the most memorable. But if I had to choose, I’d pick climbing Silence, a 9c in Flatanger, Norway, because I had to work for it the most. Climbing this route was a very long process which eventually turned into a unique relationship with the route. Many climbs are memorable, and it does not really matter whether they are hard or not, but Silence is undoubtedly the climb I’m the proudest of. I had to dig very deep, had to come with the most sophisticated training, had to remain patient despite many hard moments during the process of trying the route, and had to sacrifice the most. In the end, it was all worth it!

However, I really appreciate every single time I go climbing. It just feels so natural to me. As if I was made for climbing. Be it the most badass route in the world or be it some mossy piece of choss. It does not really matter. Of course, it is nicer to climb in a stunning location on solid rock, but sometimes, one can get very deep satisfaction even from working on two obscure moves all day long.

On Competitions

My main goal for 2018 in terms of competitions is the World Championships in Innsbruck. I will specifically prepare for it all August. I would like to be prepared for both lead and bouldering. It requires training six days a week, countless hours a day. I will be training on the campus board, powerful bouldering, specific “parkour” style bouldering, power endurance and endurance training. All mixed with compensation exercises and perfect recovery. Additionally, I will also be focusing on good nutrition, rest and sleep.

My goal for the World Championships in Innsbruck is making good results. It is hard to say at this moment what I will consider a good result. I have something in my mind, but I do not want say it out loud.

Photo: Bernardo Gimenez

Ondra’s Key Ingredients for Climbing

Climbing is a very complex activity. It consists of many different aspects and you cannot really neglect any of it. To pick just one aspect and say it is the key ingredient would be a simplification. Your mind is an important part, but without all the other aspects, it is useless. Let’s say you must be strong, you must be technically skilled, and your mind must be strong as well. Obviously, the final goal is to be as good as possible in all the aspects. I am still working on that one.

On the Development of the Sport

I think the training conditions for climbing have improved a lot. It is now so much easier to train and make it fun with a lot of variety at the same time. Thanks to a wide variety of holds, you can train longer. It is not necessary to climb on crimps exclusively like it was some 20 years ago.

I also think that climbers have more knowledge today on how to treat their bodies better, which results in less injuries. Physiotherapy plays an important role there.

I don’t think there has been one single moment that made a major revolution in our sport. Rather, it is a constant progress in all aspects—a progress that seems to be speeding up in the recent years. In gear it is lighter ropes, harnesses, quickdraws, and better shoes. We have better training facilities and better training knowledge. There have been some huge achievements that reduced the mental barriers. Everything is constantly moving forward.

In terms of influential people, Chris Sharma is the climber who pushed our sport the most in recent years. My personal hero and idol has always been Wolfgang Güllich, and Lynn Hill for females. Her ascent of The Nose has possibly been the most groundbreaking achievement ever in the history of climbing.

It has also been amazing to see the development of female climbing in very recent years. It is like the mental barrier has been broken and more and more women go out there and climb super hard.

It is natural that every generation climbs better, and I do not see any reason why it should be any different in the future. I am an optimist, I see the future of climbing being bright. I believe that just as it is right now, even in the future, climbers will respect themselves and anyone can choose to do whatever they want. Be it sport or trad climbing, indoors or outdoors, big walls or boulders, follow your heart and do what you enjoy!

On the Olympics

I’m very happy that competition climbing finally made it to the Olympics. I do believe that it deserves its recognition. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages even though I strongly disagree with the combined format as I believe it goes against the evolution of climbing. One could argue that climbing has to change in order to be attractive for the mainstream, but I do not believe so. Additionally, I am a bit worried that this format is the least understandable and interesting for the public. But let’s hope it will be a success in Tokyo and it will be a stepping stone for including all three disciplines in a better format in the upcoming years.

I accepted the challenge, I want to go to Tokyo and I want to be prepared. I have not started any specific training yet, but I will start working on it next season.

--BD Athlete Adam Ondra

Video: Adam Ondra Productions

Video: Adam Ondra Productions

Video: Adam Ondra Productions

Video: Adam Ondra Productions

Video: Adam Ondra Productions

Image: Jitka Mazlova
Image: Petr Pavlicek
Image: Pavel Blazek

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