Janja Garnbret

Photo: Instagram/janja_garnbret

Who is Slovenia rock climber Janja Garnbret?

At just 25, Janja Garnbret has already made history as the first-ever female Olympic gold medalist in the sport at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

At just 25 years old, Janja Garnbret has already made sporting history. The Slovenian climbing phenom became the first-ever female Olympic gold medalist in the sport at the Tokyo 2020 Games, a feat that cemented her status as one of the greatest climbers of all time. As we approach the 2024 Paris Olympics, it's the perfect time to get to know Janja and her remarkable achievements.

Garnbret's journey to the top (pun absolutely intended) has been nothing short of remarkable. She discovered her passion for climbing at the young age of seven, scaling doors, cupboards, and trees, inspiring her non-climbing parents to put that energy elsewhere. She told RedBull TV, “I remember when we were kids, the others were just playing ball or other games. I didn't want to get off the wall. I’d be on it for an hour and a half at a time, moving left to right, right to left, up, down. Even back then, I knew this was it. This was what I wanted to do.”

Her rise in the climbing space was meteoric. In 2016 at the age of 17, Garnbret won the overall World Cup series in the Lead category of climbing, and continued to do so for the next two years after that. In the combined Bouldering and Lead category, she was the World Cup champion for four consecutive years, from 2016 to 2019. During this time, she also secured six Climbing World Championship titles: two in Bouldering, two in Lead, and two in Combined. But Garnbret's crowning achievement came at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where she made history by becoming the first female climber to claim Olympic gold. 

Beyond her athletic achievements, Garnbret has used her platform to advocate for important causes. She has been a vocal advocate against eating disorders in sports, shedding light on the immense pressure athletes face to maintain a certain physique. “I’m a strong believer that you can do climbing, or any sport, in a healthy way,” she told CNN Sport in March 2024.

Additionally, she has championed sustainability efforts in her native Slovenia, committing to planting trees every year. “I heard that the Slovenian Winter Olympic team were offsetting carbon emissions, so I joined forces with them and together we planted over 5,000 trees. This is something I want to do every year now, I really enjoyed doing it,” she told Olympics Athletes 365. 

Garnbret describes climbing as being in somewhat of a flow state. “It feels like you're not thinking about anything,” she told Redbull. “You just enjoy yourself, enjoy being on the wall, enjoy the moves. You're just actually enjoying who you are – who you are and what you like doing.” This mentality is sure to carry her through her next challenge - Paris Olympics. 

As Garnbret sets her sights on defending her Olympic title at the Paris 2024 Games, the climbing world eagerly awaits the next chapter in her remarkable story. Her journey is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and an unwavering commitment to excellence – qualities that have propelled her to the pinnacle of her sport and inspired countless others along the way.