O’Halloran and Mackenzie earned their ticket to Tokyo by winning the Oceania Championships earlier this year, with their selection made official today.
Sport climbing at the Olympics will see athletes compete across three disciplines of Speed, Bouldering and Lead, with the final rankings determined by athletes’ combined scores across the three.
Embodying the Olympic creed of ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger,’ climbers will race up a 15m vertical wall in Speed, attempt to reach as many handhold checkpoints in six minutes high above the crowd in Lead, and solve climbing puzzles, attempting to climb as many fixed routes on a 4m wall in Bouldering.
Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team Ian Chesterman welcomed the athletes to the Olympic Team.
“Congratulations to Tom and Oceana on today’s selection to the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo,” Mr Chesterman said. “Making an Olympic debut is a special moment itself, but to be your sport’s first ever representative at an Olympic Games is a unique achievement and Tom and Oceana will forever hold a special place in their sport’s history.
“We’re thrilled to have Sport Climbing on the Olympic program and to have millions of Australian fans introduced to the athletes and see the speed, agility and courage that it takes to be an elite climber.
“Thank you to Sport Climbing Australia, and congratulations not just to the athletes but their coaches, families and support group who play such an integral role making this moment possible for Tom and Oceana.”
28-year-old O’Halloran said he has dreamed of being an Olympian since he first heard of them as an eight-year-old in 2000.
“To be the first to represent a sport is even more special and something I’ll remember forever,” O’Halloran said. “I'll be one of those Bowls Club trivia night questions, ‘who were the first Australians to represent Australia in climbing at the Olympics?’ How cool is that!”
“I’m so keen for Australia to see how different our sport is from so many others. Our challenge is always different, and we never know what we have to do until we step out onto the mats - we spend our entire lives training for unknown challenges.”
The Queenslander, who moved with his family to the Blue Mountains in 2011 to be closer to the fantastic climbing, said he can’t remember a time he wasn’t climbing.
“I was always climbing, but I never knew what it was. I was climbing out of the cot when I was 18 months old, up the door frames of the house a few years later and would watch Tarzan and Aladdin then try and do what they did in the mango tree in the backyard. A climbing gym opened up in Brisbane in 2004, some family friends were already climbers and they suggested my Mum and Dad should sign me up, I’ve never looked back.
“Climbing is so great - everyone gets to be a part of it. There’s no parents on the sidelines in climbing, they’re there with the kids, getting their hands chalky too! I hope after seeing climbing at the Games, more kids and families signing up to the gym and having it change their lives in the way it did for my family.”
Mackenzie, who represented Australia at the 2019 Doha World Beach Games, is also an IOC Scholarship holder, with the scholarship program supporting athletes in sports striving for the Olympics.
“It feels surreal to be the first Australian sport climbing Olympian alongside Tom,” Mackenzie said. “It’s such a big step for our sport and for us as athletes!”
“I started climbing when I was about 8 years old with my family at our local climbing gym - and now I’m getting to climb in the Olympics!
“I’m so excited for everyone to see how amazing this sport is. I love how mentally and physically challenging climbing is. I think a lot of Aussies will want to give it go after watching us at the Games.”
Today’s announcement takes the number of athletes selected to 275 of an expected 450-480.
Sport Climbing Australia Chairs Naomi Cleary and Romain Thevenot were thrilled to welcome today’s announcement.
"The sport of Climbing is entering a new era,” Mr Thevenot said. “We are very pleased that Tom and Oceania will be Australia's first Sport Climbing Olympians. Let's get ready for Tokyo and cheer for them to reach the top!"
“We are pleased that Australia will soon see our climbers representing us and our great sport on the world stage,” Ms Cleary added. “Tom and Oceana will be Australia’s first Sport Climbing Olympians.”
The Sport Climbing competition will run from 3-6 August at the Aomi Urban Sports Park.