It wasn’t just the 3RD ROCK HQ that was buzzing with excitement earlier this month, it seems the entire world was glued to Climbing’s debut at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
3RD ROCK Ambassador & Team GB Athlete Billy Ridal competing at the British Bouldering Championships 2021 - Image: Sam Pratt
We had not been this excited for a climbing event since the 3RD ROCK Spring Launch games! Of course, we’ve known climbing is cool for years, but there is something very special about seeing mounting global appreciation for the sport we’ve always loved - our roots are in climbing after all.
Whilst the ‘combined’ format seemed somewhat controversial, (a bit like telling a 100m athlete they can only compete if they take on a 5k and a marathon in order to have a shot at a medal), the three disciplines of speed, bouldering and lead, do speak to the fundamental components that make a good climber: agility, strength and grit for starters. Not to mention the need for relentless resourcefulness, problem-solving, thinking on your feet (literally) and pushing mind and body to the ultimate limits.
Climbing wasn’t the only sport to debut at this year’s Olympics - skateboarding, surfing, BMX Freestyle and karate all took to the stage for the first time, too - new additions reflecting the world’s evolving diversity in sport, (subtext: desperately dragging more action and youth to an ageing institution).
There is no doubting the ‘watchability’ of sport climbing - since this year’s games began, “sport climbing” has been the most searched-for Olympic sport, according to Google, and global social media has been lit with praise for the athletes who compete, and emphatic pledges from complete beginners wanting to take up the sport immediately.
But what is it about climbing that has gripped the world and inspired such rocketing global growth of a sport that’s been established for years? Maybe it’s the playful rebellion about climbing; it is left-field. It can be fun, serious, straight-forward and complex. It isn’t main-stream; it doesn’t conform. There is a beautiful simplicity to climbing - you rise and/or you fall, but every climb and sequence of movements is unique; a formula for ultimate exhilaration and satisfaction.
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With most people around the world having been locked down for so long, perhaps climbing speaks to our need for escapism, for fresh air and for physical movement. The thought of contorting our locked-down and slowed-down bodies feels satisfyingly anti-establishment, doesn’t it?
With so many liberties restricted recently, is climbing the outlet that helps us find our freedom? Some are surprised by the access to an overwhelmingly embracing community that climbing grants; climbers typically are kind, approachable and ‘can do’ people - a promising recipe for lasting friendships with people who want to achieve goals together.
Reassuringly, for the newbees so keen to get started, climbing can stand up to most Covid-19 restrictions; outdoors but with option of indoors: check; sociable but safe: check; good for the mind and body: check - yep, climbing is certifiably lockdown-proof!
3RD ROCK Ambassador Nora Kiraly mentoring a new climber - Image:Tibor Varga
The list of physical benefits from climbing is truly endless - an all over body workout which improves strength, balance, flexibility and grip. As a result of the brutally physical and mental application requirements of climbing, when this kind of grit and endurance is practiced it is the psychological benefit that becomes perhaps the most significant. Climbers can enjoy potent confidence-boosting endorphins and an unmatchable feeling of accomplishment and pride.
The new sport climbing format seen at The 2020 Olympics was a timely reminder of the sheer physical dynamism climbers need to win. With 3RD ROCK having a climbing origin story, designing clothes to meet such requirements is in our DNA - we became known for our smart cut after all.
Founder and Head Designer Jessica Mor comments:
“What’s been fascinating is that as our business has grown, and as people’s lives have changed, we have learnt that so many of our newest customers are non-climbers, and they choose our clothing because their lives are ‘dynamic’, not just their sporting habits. For them, comfort is now firmly on a par with performance (whatever performance means to them) - and both qualities have been our guiding design principles since 3RD ROCK began, so we get to carry on being our authentic selves and doing what we love”.
The effect of the 2020 Olympics inspiring the next generation of climbers cannot be ignored, but what people have been craving for their mental and physical health has been brewing for some time; the combination of global shiny platform and perfect timing may just be the fuel for a cataclysmic growth shift in such a previously underrated sport. So get outside, move, find your freedom and enjoy the endless benefits of climbing.
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Thanks for reading. We're 3RD ROCK. We design and manufacture sustainable climbing clothes & activewear that's made to move and made to last. Using recycled ocean plastic, organic cotton and upcycled materials, we're making items that help protect the very environments we depends on for our adventures.
We've been awarded "Most Ethical Climbing Brand" by the Ethical Consumer trade bodybeating out Black Diamond, Prana and even Patagonia!
It's our way of saying "no" to fast fashion, "yes" to protecting the climate and "absolutely" to a life spent outdoors.
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