Ann Arbor teen qualifies for 2024 Olympics in speed climbing

Zach Hammer rock climbing
Posted at 10:52 AM, Jun 26, 2024

A climber from Ann Arbor is headed to the 2024 Olympics in Paris, joining Team USA after qualifying in Budapest last week.

Zach Hammer, 18, finished in 7th place in speed climbing at the Olympic Qualifier Series in Budapest last Thursday. Hammer beat Hryhorii Ilchyshyn of Ukraine in his 1/8 final race with a time of 5.15 seconds.

“It’s been a long journey and I’m super proud of myself,” Hammer said, according to USA Climbing. “I want to thank all my coaches and my family. They’re all here to support me and celebrate and I couldn’t do it without them. This means so much!”

This will be the first year that speed climbing will be featured in the 2024 Olympics, and the second time that sport climbing will be part of the competition.

Sam Watson, of Texas, also qualified for the 2024 Olympics in speed climbing.

According to Hammer's profile on the USA Climbing page, he started climbing at just 3 years old.

He holds the Male Youth A American Speed Record with a time of 5.12 seconds, and finished 5th in the 2023 YETI National Championships and 3rd in the 2023 Youth National Championships.

There are three formats of sport climbing at the Olympics: bouldering, speed and lead climbing.

In speed climbing, participants will race in one-on-one elimination routes up a 15-meter (49-foot) wall with five degrees of incline; bouldering requires athletes to climb 4.5-meter (14.7-foot) walls without ropes in a limited period of time; lead climbing is when athletes climb as high as they can up the 155-meter wall over the course of six minutes without seeing the route ahead of time.

Men's speed qualification for seeing and elimination will take place Tuesday, Aug. 6 with the finals taking place on Thursday, Aug. 8.