Molly Thompson-Smith: I want to be at Paris 2024, not talking about it on TV

Molly Thompson-Smith: I want to be at Paris 2024, not talking about it on TV

Olympic climbing hopeful Molly Thompson-Smith

The 24-year-old has set her sights on Paris 2024 (Picture: Alan Walter)

The last couple of years have seen the sport of climbing’s public profile boom massively; new climbing walls opened and became busier and busier, more mainstream companies wanted to work with climbers and it won the attention of Olympic viewers at home last summer.

Of course I had always wanted to be at the Olympics myself rather than talking about it in a television studio but, after my failure to qualify, I really am grateful for the opportunities that still came my way as a result of the Games.

I enjoyed working with the BBC to present climbing to a wider audience and be the face that helped break down the captivating performances we saw in Tokyo.

I will always be an athlete but I really enjoy being able to learn 
new skills and appreciate other people’s professions.

And seeing the behind the scenes and working on the BBC’s coverage of the Games really highlighted how hard commentary is!

It’s fast-paced, dynamic and exciting, but there’s also no room for error. You have to make sure what you’re saying is useful, correct and presented clearly and succinctly. That week at the BBC sure did make me appreciate the skills of the pundits, TV presenters and commentators out there.

But as much as climbing is still buzzing over its Olympic debut in Japan last summer, there is not much time for reminiscing as the qualification for the next Games in Paris in two years’ time is not far off beginning all over again.

Molly Thompson-Smith at the 2020 IFSC Climbing European Championships in Moscow

Thompson-Smith was part of the BBC’s Olympic climbing coverage (Picture: Getty)

The fight to be in France is already on the minds of pretty much all competitive climbers out there, with the first opportunity to secure a ticket to the Games being next summer’s world championships in Bern.

The next Olympics will see a change in format, bringing sport climbing at the Games closer to the competitive sport that us climbers are used to. Speed will be its own event, with boulder and lead becoming a combined event.

I don’t think I’m the only climber who is relieved by this change in format. It was really challenging training for three very different disciplines at the same time and the increased training load and intensity definitely took its toll on many athletes, with injuries and retirements plentiful.

This rejigged format should be a much nicer training experience for competition climbers and allow for the very best in each discipline to showcase the sport in 2024.

My goals, like commentary, are ever-changing. But there’s one that remains the same – and that is Olympic qualification.

Next year, especially, will be so crucial to my hopes of making the startline in France for Team GB.

I have had some time to recover from the long and emotionally draining process that was the Tokyo qualification trail and I feel ready to put myself out there again and go for the next Games.

Molly Thompson-Smith is a The North Face athlete #NeverStopExploring

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