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Q&A: Molly Thompson-Smith

The British climber, 20, aims to compete in the sport’s Olympics debut at Tokyo 2020 and is backing the #ShowUp campaign

How did you get into the sport?

My family were involved with netball and I played for my school and county, but I tried lots of sports when I was younger before I chose to take up climbing at seven.

You were world No.1 as a junior, so what was your route into competitive climbing?

I asked my parents if I could join a club. I just knew it was the sport for me because I enjoyed it so much, even back then when facilities were more basic.

When did you feel like this was the career path for you?

I won the European Youth Cup at 16 and realised I could do it. Then I decided to take a gap year and three months into my nine-month trip, I wanted to come back and climb!

Was that the right decision?

I have not looked back since. But we only get funded for Tokyo if we achieve certain criteria and they are really, really hard. I have been competitive since I was 13 and really I have self-funded everything.

What did you think when you heard climbing would be in the Olympics?

I always wanted to be an Olympian and I was involved in the campaign to get it into the 2012 Games but we got shot down and suddenly now we’re an Olympic sport for 2020. It’s not an ideal set-up, though, as it basically combines speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing, which is my discipline.

You’ve been getting over a hand injury. Do you see it being a hard road to Olympic qualification?

For the first time I have to do all three events — a bit like doing three totally different sports. It’ll be a spectacle, and you’ll get a bit of everything, but it’s not ideal.


■ Olympic medals will be earned from combined scores from three disciplines.

■ Speed climbing — head-to-head race to climb a 15m wall fastest.

■ Bouldering — ‘creative’ gymnastic climbs a short distance off the ground. The aim is to achieve the set challenge in the fewest attempts in a timed period.

■ Lead climbing — going up a wall or structure, the climber who reaches the top fastest or makes it highest wins.

Sky Sports and the Women’s Sport Trust have partnered to encourage everyone to show up and support women in sport by watching, attending or playing this summer. Be a part of the campaign by sharing your experiences of women’s sport on social using #ShowUp