Sport climbing has become a new Olympic sport for Tokyo in 2020.

The Western Bay has claimed a big chunk of the New Zealand action thanks to the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance Sport.

Mount Maunganui has become Climbing New Zealand's high performance base with athletes training at Rocktopia and the Adams Centre.

A selection of top New Zealand sport climbers started training at Mount Maunganui earlier this month, under the tutelage of Rocktopia co-owner Rob Moore, who is Climbing New Zealand's head coach.


The team of top climbers includes 17-year-old Sarah Tetzlaff, one of 20 females world-wide to qualify for the Youth Olympics in Argentina in October 2018.

Tetzlaff, who moved to the Bay of Plenty from Wellington, is the only female from New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia to qualify. Also in the high-performance team is Wellington's George Sanders, 20, sport climbing's national and Oceania lead climbing champion.

Sport climbing is the competitive side of rock climbing and covers the three disciplines of speed climbing, lead climbing and bouldering.

Moore will be assisted in his coaching role by Adams Centre specialists — lead speed and agility coach Kerry Hill and lead strength and conditioning coach and biomechanics specialist Dr Travis McMaster. Speed, power and endurance are part of the sport's three disciplines and Moore says he, Hill and McMaster will be working together to structure a highly effective training programme.

"Attracting top climbers to the Mount is our aim, and we've already started achieving that," Moore says.

Adams Centre manager Justine Brennan says working with specialised sports requiring different skills sets is the strength of the high-performance centre.

"Our speed, strength and conditioning coaches have the expertise to work with Rob and his squad to deliver exactly what they need in terms of performance improvements.

"While the centre caters for a great diversity of sporting codes, having the sport climbing high performance team working at the centre aligns with our strategic direction to attract another national sporting organisation — in addition to NZ Rugby Sevens — to the centre.

"This is another milestone in the pathway to transform Tauranga into a centre of excellence for high performance sport."

Rocktopia incorporates a specific training facility and Moore says that, coupled with all that the Adams Centre offers, enables Tauranga to be NZ 's high performance centre for this sport.

Others on the sport climbing high performance team are Irralee Hair from Mount Maunganui, Sam Munday from Rotorua and Sophia Osipova from Wellington. The latter two have moved to the Bay especially to train.

Tetzlaff qualified for the Youth Olympics after winning the Oceania Championships in New Caledonia last month.

The recent school leaver began rock climbing as a 12-year-old but only started competing seriously last year.

"There is something really satisfying about pulling your body weight against gravity," she said.