Paris Olympics: Climbers Sarah Tetzlaff, Julian David make history as first Kiwis to qualify for event

Kiwis Sarah Tetzlaff and Julian David have created history, as the first NZ climbers to qualify for the Olympics.

The pair won their respective events at the Oceania qualifying event at Melbourne, edging out Australian opponents to stake their claims on spots at Paris next year.

Sport climbing was introduced to the Olympics at Tokyo 2021, with Aussies contesting both men's and women's events.

Climbers Sarah Tetzlaff and Julian David celebrate qualification for the Paris Olympics.
Climbers Sarah Tetzlaff and Julian David celebrate qualification for the Paris Olympics. Photo credit: Supplied

Tetzlaff seemed to trail opponent Grace Crowley up the wall, but took the decision with a desperate lunge at the finish that put her ahead, clocking 8.54s to Crowley's 8.88s.

"The final was incredibly close and I didn't think I had it, to be honest," she said. "Anything can happen in speed is the classic saying - that's what my coach always says - so you just have to treat every run as an individual run that you do in training.

"Forget about the last one, forget about the next one and just go hard."

David, 18, entered the event as world youth champion, after capturing the age-group crown at Seoul in August, and was more comfortable in his victory over Hayden Barton, who stumbled midflight. The Kiwi had time to celebrate at the top of his run, before clocking 6.77s.

"I cannot believe it," he said. "I've dreamed of all sorts of outcomes.

"I've woken up at night thinking, 'Oh man, what if this happens' and it has actually happened, so it's absolutely surreal.

"I have a bit of an off season now for a month, and then I will hit 2024 in full training and see what I can come out with at the end."

The pair still have work to do and must satisfy the NZ Olympic Committee's top-16 criteria, before they can celebrate selection for Paris.

"We've been training really hard and it's just amazing that we've won both of these spots," said Climbing NZ high performance director Rob Moore. "I'm incredibly proud of these athletes and our whole climbing team.

"Sarah and Julian performed incredibly and have created history."