Meshkova and Rubstov claim European titles and secure spots for Russia at Tokyo Olympics

Viktoriia Meshkova and Aleksei Rubstov claim the final two Olympic berths with thrilling combined victories at the IFSC European Championships in Moscow 

By Ken Browne

Viktoriia Meshkova and Aleksei Rubstov were imperious at the sport climbing IFSC European Championships in Moscow, winning the combined titles to claim the two remaining qualification spots at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics next summer.

Meshkova who won the women's lead on Wednesday (25 November) to add to her bouldering title from Monday was once again on top of the world.

The 20-year-old climber was overwhelmed when the results came in and her victory was confirmed, in tears as she was hailed by a home crowd in Moscow.

"I don't believe it's really true. It's magic," she said afterwards.

It was equally emotional for the men where Rubstov just beat Switzerland's Sascha Lehmann for that coveted ticket to Tokyo.

Neither Russian athlete led the qualification coming into Saturday's combined finals, Switzerland's Sascha Lehman and Eliska Adamovska from the Czech Republic sat top of the qualification rankings on Friday which was a rest day.

Meshkova lay in 4th and Rubstov was back in 6th before Saturday's action making their triumph all the more remarkable after a gruelling week of climbing in Moscow.

Molly Thompson-Smith came agonizingly close to Meshkova's feat of topping the lead wall, but the day belonged to the Russian scaler.

With Europe's top climbers like Janja Garnbret, Jakob Schubert, Shauna Coxey, Jessica Pilz, Mia Krampl, and Adam Ondra having already qualified for the Olympics, the European champs decided the final two European athletes we'll see in Japan.

Rubstov roars in Moscow

A few months ago if you had told Aleksei Rubstov that he'd be going to the Tokyo Olympics he would have looked at you like you were crazy.

An injury meant that he'd miss the Olympic qualifying tournament originally scheduled for March 2020, but then along came a pandemic and the postponements and suddenly he was fit again.

22-year-old Sascha Lehmann put in an incredible piece of lead climbing in Saturday's combined final, storming up the wall in an exhilarating exhibition of strength and concentration, and was devastated after confirmation that he had lost out to Rubstov.

"It's one of the most amazing moments of my life," the elated Rubstov said afterwards.

"An impressive and hard fight to go to the Olympics, and my injury, I thought it was not possible. The pandemic gave me one more chance..."

Now this Russian duo can measure themselves against the best climbers on the planet at the Tokyo Games next summer.


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