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Meet 21-year-old record-breaking climbing champion, Janja Garnbret

Emerald Pellot
·2-min read

Janja Garnbret is a 21-year-old professional climber from Slovenia — and a decorated climber at that.

In 2018 the Slovenian Sports Journalists Association dubbed her Athlete of the Year, in 2019 she became the World Champion in bouldering and difficulty climbing and in 2020 she climbed Europe’s tallest chimney.

“I specialize in competition climbing. But I train all three disciplines. So this means speed, lead and bouldering,” she explained to In The Know.

Competitive climbing is typically held indoors using an artificial wall. Lead climbing requires ascending a long and arduous route, while in bouldering, no equipment is used but the routes are shorter and less high; finally, in speed climbing competitors aim to finish fastest.

“I started climbing when I was six or seven years old,” Garnbret said. “As a child, I was super hyperactive. I never ran out of energy. I was climbing on doors and closets and on trees. You always found me on the highest branch on the tree.”

She began competitively climbing when she was still in school.

“My first ever competition, was when I was 13 years old,” Garnbret said. “It was the European Youth Championships. I didn’t even know what kind of competition I was going to. And I went and I won that competition.”

Since then Garnbret has been on much of a winning streak with few exceptions. She’s the first person to win six consecutive gold medals in bouldering, meaning she won every event in a single season.

“When I was younger, when I just started competing in a World Cup, I saw my idols,” Garnbret said. “I said I want to be as good as them. And I work hard every day to be as good as them. But once you’re at the top, others are following you. So it’s harder to stay at the top than to get to the top. So it’s war every day, I must say, but the war I enjoy, the war with yourself to be better every day. And that’s the path I’ve chosen and I love that path.”

Garnbret trains extensively in order to constantly out best herself. She trains six days a year, all year long. Eventually, all the training will culminate in Garnbret competing at the 2021 Olympics.

“Of course, I’m going there with one goal set in my mind. But definitely I am super happy just to be there, just to compete, to show my sport, to show what I’ve been training for,” Garnbret said.

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