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Competition climbing one hold closer to Olympic acceptance

Climbing organization ready to make its pitch



A recent decision by the International Olympic Committee to formally recognize the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) as the sole governing body for climbing on artificial surfaces puts the sport on a par with swimming or even hockey, says Dave Dornian, chair of Competition Climbing Canada (CEC), Canada’s national sport climbing organization.

The official recognition, which was announced in December, also brings competition climbing one step closer to being included in the Olympic Games, he added.

“We really have just one step left to go,” Dornian said. “Competition climbing needs to be voted in by the IOC program committee as part of the next Olympic Games that aren’t finalized yet.”

Those Games, he said, are in 2014.

“Competition climbing has now been accepted and recognized by the IOC, as one on the list of sports that are eligible,” Dornian explained. “That means it is now a peer with swimming, sailing, tennis (and) even hockey.”

One of the criteria for receiving that recognition was that the sport be practiced in a sufficient number of countries – more than 70. Organized competition climbing is popular in many European nations, as well as much of Asia and North America. It is part of several multi-sport games, including the Asian Games and the World Games.

“We probably have more countries than swimming,” Dornian said. “Climbing meets all the criteria for number of countries, and it continues to grow.”

As the governing body for the sport of competition climbing in Canada, the CEC, which is a member of the IFSC, ensures its athletes follow international regulations, including anti doping rules. It is also charged with forming national teams and arranging for those teams to participate in international competitions.

And, in the case of seeing competition climbing among the sports represented at the Olympics in the future, official recognition is an essential step.

"The CEC is a national sports federation, just like Alpine Canada,” Dornian said. “What this (recognition) means for us is that we can now approach Sports Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee for parallel recognition for our athletes and programs.” Currently, the CEC, which also happens to be the only non-geographical section of the Alpine Club of Canada, includes an adult team, which fluctuates between 10 and 20 members over the age of 16, and a youth team with 24 to 30 members between the ages of 13 and 19. While some members of the youth team are younger than 13, they are not recognized internationally.