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Sport climbing: Japan's Noguchi earns Tokyo Olympic berth with world silver

Akiyo Noguchi of Japan competes in the lead discipline of the women's combined final at the sport climbing world championships in Hachioji, Tokyo, on Aug. 20, 2019. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Akiyo Noguchi earned a spot in sport climbing at next year's Olympics after winning a silver medal in the women's combined at the world championships on Tuesday.

Sport climbing was one of five sports, four of them new to the Olympics, added to next year's games by Tokyo's local organizers.

The 30-year-old had to come from behind after a disappointing seventh place in the speed discipline, the first of three events in the combined competition. She turned things around by finishing first in bouldering and came within a whisker of pulling off a stunning upset but fell at the very top of the lead wall, the final event.

When Noguchi missed for a final hold in the lead, Janja Garnbret of Slovenia, who won the individual bouldering and lead gold medals at Esforta Arena Hachioji in western Tokyo, hung on to defend her world combined championship.

"I had nothing left in the tank at that point," Noguchi said of her close call with gold. "I'd about reached my limit."

"If I had failed to qualify for the Olympics, I was going to retire. Now I have another year of the competitive climbing I love ahead of me," she said.

Each athlete's ranking in the three events is multiplied, with the gold medal going to the climber with the lowest combined score. With a seventh, a first and a third in the lead, Noguchi finished with 21 points. Garnbret had 12 to take the gold.

Noguchi went into the bouldering and was the only climber to complete two problems. None were able to tackle a very difficult third.

"I didn't concern myself with my speed result," Noguchi said. "I didn't have a first place next to my name all season in bouldering and I really wanted one."

Three other Japanese reached the women's combined final -- Ai Mori, Miho Nonaka and Futaba Ito.

"The four of us trained so hard, and I have mixed feelings about being the one selected," Noguchi said.

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