July 6, 2021
Melinda Head

New Olympic Sports – Part 2

It looks like there’s no turning back, the Tokyo Olympics will kick into gear on July 23rd, 17 days from now. Welcome newbies Sport Climbing and Karate

Sakura Kokumai, a U.S. Olympic hopeful
Sakura Kokumai, a U.S. Olympic hopeful

Brooke Raboutou has a climbing gene pool pedigree extraordinaire, as they say in French
Brooke Raboutou has a climbing gene pool pedigree extraordinaire, as they say in French

In Part 1 of our New Olympic Sports blog , published on June 22nd, we covered Surfing and Skateboarding. Today we wrap up the last 2 of 4 new Tokyo entrants to the coveted premier event.

Sport Climbing

There will be 3 different Sport Climbing disciplines in Toyko, all performed indoors, not at any nearby mountain range:

  • Speed climbing: 2 opponents are pitted against each other as they climb an identical route on a 15m (about 50 ft.) wall angled at 95 degrees. The fastest person to successfully traverse the route wins
  • Bouldering: athletes scale as many pre-established, fixed routes as they can within 4 minutes on a wall that is 4.5m (about 15 ft.) high. The routes vary in difficulty. No practice in advance is permitted. No safety ropes are used. A route can be attempted again if a climber falls during his/her initial attempt
  • Lead: athletes attempt to climb as high as they can on a 15m+ (about 50 ft.) high wall within 6 minutes. Safety ropes are attached to quickdraws (equipment that allows the rope to run freely while leading) along the route. If a climber falls, the height attained is recorded. No climbs can be attempted a second time. If two or more athletes complete the climb and reach the exact same height, the fastest to do so is declared the winner

Each climber will compete in all 3 disciplines to arrive at a combined winning score.

Historically, climbers have not participated in all 3 disciplines. 2018 was the first year athletes were presented with this tremendous challenge, in which versatility clearly reigns.

Team USA is comprised of 4 climbers:

Nathaniel Coleman, 24, from Murray, UT. He started bouldering at age 9, and already has 15 years of experience to draw from. He has 3 Bouldering National Championships to his name, among other accolades.

Colin Duffy, 17, from Boulder, CO.  Duff started climbing at the ripe old age of 5 and is an impressive 10X Youth National Champion, with 2X Youth World Championships in Lead. He is currently a high school senior.

At the top of the sport, Colin Duffy is still a high school student

Kyra Condie, 25, from Shoreview, MN, discovered a love for the sport after attending a climbing gym birthday party. Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis has not prevented her from being an outstanding climber.

Brooke Raboutou, 20, also from Boulder, CO, comes from an elite climber gene pool (parents Robyn Erbesfield and Didier Raboutou). This former World Youth Champion, who has been climbing since she was in diapers, shares her time between Colorado and Toulouse, France.

Check out the Sport Climbing competition from August 3-6.

Red Bull has put together an interesting compendium of climbing-challenge movies, they’re worth a nail-biting watch and can easily be viewed online:


My fav remains Academy Award-winning Free Solo (no safety ropes, OMG):


Karate will be on the play card for 2021, but won’t be a permanent fixture at the Summer Olympics.

It is fitting that Karate debuts at the Tokyo Olympics because it is said to have originated on the Japanese island of Okinawa during the Ryukyu Dynasty in the 15th Century. Did you know that karate means “empty hand”? This may be a sport that originated for people who were forbidden to carry weapons, or for whom the main purpose of the martial art sport was to be a gentleman first and a warrior second, as some have said. Either way, the history of karate is very intriguing.

Do you know that Elvis Presley earned his 8th degree black belt in Kempo Karate (a derivative of Karate which focuses on self defense)? Now that you know, you might better understand where some of his rock ‘n roll moves actually came from. There is an exhibit on at Graceland right now about his love for the sport.


Elvis Presley developed an interest in Karate during his military service, eventually earning a black belt
Elvis Presley developed an interest in Karate during his military service, eventually earning a black belt

A karate practitioner is called a “karateka”. Can you pronounce that? It sounds very cool! Here are some other words used in Karate:

Karate has two disciplines:

Kumite: a 3 minute fight during which points are awarded in 3 different weight categories where form, power and control are critical to success. The athlete who has a lead of 8 points is declared the winner, or if there is no such lead, the winner is the athlete with the most points at time-up (3 minutes). If the fight is a draw, the winner is determined by the first unopposed point advantage (“senshu”) or, in the case of a scoreless result, by a majority decision of the judges (“hantei”)

  • Points are scored according to correctly-executed techniques of controlled punches, strikes and kicks
  • 1 point (“yuko”) is awarded for delivering a punch with a closed hand (“tsuki”) to the head, neck, belly, side, back or torso of the opponent
  • 2 points (“waxza-ari”) are awarded for a kick to the body
  • 3 points (“ippon”) are scored for a high kick delivered to the head, or for a punch delivered to an opponent who has been taken to the ground after a sweep or takedown

Kata: competitors execute a set of pre-approved offensive and defensive choreographed movements popularly known as “forms”, with the winner declared by a pool of judges who take into consideration technical and athletic performances.

Tom Scott, 31, from Richardson, TX, is a 2X Pan Am Games Gold Medalist. He failed to be selected for Team USA, but was able to fill a quota spot when Iran’s Bahman Asgari Ghoncheh was excluded due to a doping issue. Lucky man!!! (Phew).

Brian Irr, 32, from Amherst, NY, is also a Pan Am Games Gold Medalist. He began karate at age 8, years before he sprouted into a giant 6’4” Olympic contender. He currently ranks 9th in the world in his kumite weight class.

Brian Irr may tower over his opponents with his 6’4” stature. Advantage or disadvantage?
Brian Irr may tower over his opponents with his 6’4” stature. Advantage or disadvantage?

Sakura Kokumai, 28, from Honolulu, HI, is a Pan American Games Gold Medalist in kata. The recent victim of a very scary anti-Asian incident by a male aggressor, we sincerely hope that this shameful act does not affect her performance. Kokumai is the only female American participating in Karate at the Tokyo Olympics and, until recently when Panasonic stepped up, this world class athlete has been severely under-funded; we encourage you to support her in any way you can.

Ariel Torres, 23, was born in Cuba, but is now an American from Hialeah, FL. Like Kokumai, he also practices kata and is ranked #10 in the world. This trumpet player began karate at age 6 as a way to overcome hyperactivity; the discipline of kata obviously was the right recipe. Torres has Sr. National and Jr. National (5X) Championships to his name.

Be sure to watch these both disciplines from August 5-7.

If you haven’t already read our blog about Skateboarding and Surfing at the Tokyo Olympics, you’ll find it in our FACT-ory blog menu at www.quizefy.com.

Now challenge yourself and your friends to our New Olympic Sports: Part 2 Quiz of the Day, by downloading Quizefy from the app store if you haven’t already done so, then see how much you know and Strut Your Smart. Our New Olympic Sports: Part 2 Quiz is only available today, then it disappears. We’ll be back again every Tuesday with a special blog posted at www.quizefy.com, along with a new trivia quiz on the same topic as the blog. Don’t forget to follow Quizefy in social media, so we can remind you of upcoming blog and quiz content.

Coming Up For Quizefy

Every day:  a new trivia Quiz of the Day on continuously changing topics. Available for 24 hours only

Every Tuesday:  our FACT-ory blog on www.quizefy.com, with a matching Quiz of the Day in our Quizefy app. Read our blog for hints that will improve your Quizefy score

Every Sunday:  the Week in Review, our comprehensive review of national and global events in the past 7 days. This would be a great addition to your Sunday routine

Always:  trivia questions on a myriad of topics that you can choose yourself
Tuesday, March 28th: The Masters at Augusta
Wednesday, March 29th: Manatee Day
Thursday, March 30th: National Doctors Day
Friday, March 31st: Prom Day
Saturday, April 1st: April Fools' Day
Sunday, April 2nd: Week in Review
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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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