2021 TIME100 Next
Jae C. Hong—AP
February 17, 2021 6:55 AM EST

When the delayed Olympic Games finally take place in Tokyo—scheduled for July of this year—the sport of competitive climbing will make its debut. In pole position to steal the show is 21-year-old Slovenian Janja Garnbret, who has won the past four women’s climbing world cups in a row. Despite never being featured in the Olympics before, climbing is a visual sport that, with its spectacular jumps and infinite variations of problem-solving, lends itself to TV. Garnbret hopes that the attention will take the sport to new heights. And with climbing gyms around the world forced to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic, plunging many into financial difficulty, the international spotlight couldn’t come at a more crucial time. “I have a responsibility to show the sport to the world, and to set a good example,” Garnbret tells TIME. And while she hopes to get gold, going to Tokyo is about more than just victory. “I’m the kind of person who, if I’m not having fun, then I definitely won’t get a good result,” she says. “I’m going there to enjoy it, because I know if I enjoy it, everything will be O.K.” —Billy Perrigo

EDIT POST