Champion climber eager to fly SA flag at Paris Olympics

Acclaimed sport climber, Lauren Mukheibir, is one of four climbers who will represent South Africa at the Paris Olympic Games. Picture: Supplied

Acclaimed sport climber, Lauren Mukheibir, is one of four climbers who will represent South Africa at the Paris Olympic Games. Picture: Supplied

Published May 18, 2024


The female African Sport Climbing reigning queen, Lauren Mukheibir, will be representing South Africa at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris this July.

The 22-year-old, who recently was conferred with a cum laude degree in marine biology from Edith Cowan University in Perth, said the love for climbing started at the tender age of nine. What piqued her interest in pursuing her degree was when she volunteered in the Seychelles for a scuba diving programme during the pandemic, in 2020.

Mukheibir is one of four climbers who will be representing the continent.

Mukheibir is currently not in the country, but training in Perth. She will be back on June 4 as she will be training for two weeks before competing in the Innsbruck World Cup from June 26 to 30.

Furthermore, she will board a flight to France on July 23 for a training camp in Troyes, in preparation for the Olympics. Soon after the qualifiers are over, there will be a group of 12 top-ranked global sport climbers heading to Paris.

"I will then move into the Olympic Village on the 31st of July and compete on the 6th and 8th of August," said Mukheibir.

The climber qualified for the Olympics when she won a combined competition during December in Pretoria, which involved climbers competing in the Boulder and Lead categories.

Lead involves a 16m high wall and a route worth 100 points, meanwhile, the Boulder category has four boulders, each worth 25 points. When both rounds are completed, the scores are combined to create a score out of 200 to determine a player's placement.

Since her disciplines are Boulder and Lead, she will not compete in the Speed category.

"I train about 20 hours a week – 10 hours of climbing and 10 hours of strength training – it is what my body can handle. Climbing to such a high level requires so much confidence and bravery.

"I get quite scared with big jumps or boulders that require a few fast moves. This confidence takes time as it is something you practise throughout training sessions. Once you start, you just build on it," said Mukheibir.

Mukheibir praised the support of her coaches, Devin Sender from South Africa and Alan Pryce from Australia, who have played a huge role in making her the noble climber she is today.

She also added that her family and friends are headed to Paris to cheer her on.

"It's going to be incredible to represent my country and the continent in Paris. Some competitors in my sport are in their 30s, so I believe I have another Olympics in me too. Regardless, I will keep climbing until the day I cannot get out of bed anymore," she said.

She further noted that she hopes that her qualifying for the Olympics inspires a new generation of climbers.

"The growth of the SA climbing community has a really long way to go, but it is taking baby steps and it's really important.

"I would love to see more awareness of the sport for kids in schools, gyms and workshops. At the moment, there are limited facilities for climbing in SA and few coaches too.

"For those already climbing, keep at it! Climbing has many highs to enjoy, including the friendships you make along the way and the self-discoveries too. Consistency is key," she said.

Saturday Star

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