A quick guide to sport climbing and scoring

Today we take a look at the format of sport climbing and how the event is scored. We will take a look at each of the three disciplines and how the climbers will be ranked.


Sport climbing is made up of three disciplines: speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing. There are a total 20 female and 20 male climbers competing. There is one set of medals for men and one set for women. The climber with the best aggregate score for all three disciples will take home gold.

Aggregate score

Each climber will receive a rank for each of the three disciplines. These ranks are then multiplied with each other to calculate the climber’s aggregate score. For example:

Rank Speed Climbing: 2
Rank Bouldering: 3
Rank Lead Climbing: 4

2 x 3 x 4 = 24

Speed Climbing:

Goal: Fastest to the top without falling

Equipment: Climbing shoes, automatic belay rope and harness

Wall: Artificial wall, 15m high with a 1.3m overhang (95°)

Number of routes: 1 (standardised route i.e. the speed climbing route always has the same holds and identical hold positions)

Time limit: There is no time limit. A good time for a female athlete is about 7-8 seconds and a good time for a male athlete is about 5-6 seconds.

Attempts: Each climber has two attempts – one attempt on each of the two identical lanes. Two climbers climb at the same time next to each other (one on each lane). The climbers are not directly competing against the adjacent climber, but rather against the total pool of climbers based on time.

Ranking: Fastest to slowest. A fall or a false start in either lane/attempt puts the climber into last place.

Fun fact: Speed climbing is the fastest ever Olympic event


Goal: Climb to the top (or to the zone holds for a partial score) of 4 bouldering problems with the least number of attempts

Equipment: Climbing shoes

Wall: Artificial wall, 4.5m high with an average inclination close to 30° (min +5° to max 60°)


Number of problems: 4

Time limit: 5 minutes per problem

Attempts: There is no limit to the number of attempts. The climber will finish climbing after reaching the top of the route or when the time limit has expired.

Ranking: The climber with the most number of “tops” (completed problems) or zones (if no tops were reached) and the least number of attempts per problem will receive the highest rank.

Fun fact: The climbers do not get to see the problems until right before climbing them. Each problem is unique and changes from competition to competition.


Lead climbing:

Goal: Climb to the highest hold possible without falling

Equipment: Climbing shoes, rope and harness

Wall: Artificial wall, 15m high with a 9m overhang

Number of routes: 1

Time limit: 6 minutes

Attempts: 1

Ranking: Each hold is numbered from 1 to 35. The climber that reaches the highest hold without falling receives rank number 1. If multiple climbers reach the same height, the climber who reached it fastest receives the top rank.

Fun fact: If a climber reaches and controls a hold, but falls whilst reaching for the next hold, they receive a + score e.g. 33+



20 male and 20 female climbers pre-qualified for the Olympics, so there is only a semi-final and a final event at the games. There are no differences between the rules for the semi-final and the final. The top 6 ranked climbers from the semi-final proceed to the final.

Qualification Men:
3rd August 2021
– Speed 10:00am CET
– Bouldering, 11:00am CET
– Lead 2:10pm CET

Qualification Women:
4th August 2021
– Speed 10:00am CET
– Bouldering 11:00am CET
– Lead 2:10pm CET

Final Men:
5th August 2021
– Speed 10:00am CET
– Bouldering 11:30am CET
– Lead 2:10pm CET

Final Women:
6th August 2021
– Speed 10am CET
– Bouldering 11:30am CET
– Lead 2:10pm CET