Australia and New Zealand won the Olympic tickets at the Oceania Olympic Qualifier in Melbourne.
Campbell Harrison and Oceana Mackenzie won the tickets for Australia in Boulder&Lead. Sarah Tetzalaff and Julian David won the tickets for New Zealand in Speed.
For all athletes at the event, the Qualifier was their best chance to qualify for the Olympics. Only Oceana Mackenzie had any World Cup final experience.
Read more below for the key takeaways from the Oceana Olympic Qualifier.
Campbell Harrison put the ghosts of 2020 to rest by topping the Lead route to win his Olympic ticket
You can see what the Olympic ticket meant to Campbell Harrison.
He roared in celebration after the topping the Lead route. This celebration reflected all the hard work and struggles over the last decade. Harrison had to pull out of the Oceania Olympic Qualifier for Tokyo 2020. Australia put COVID lockdowns in place on the morning of the competition. Harrison had to choose whether to leave to see his family for Christmas or stay to try and win the Olympic ticket. On top of this, his sister had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.
His speed round had not gone as well as he wanted, finishing 7th after a false start in his first round. He would have needed to win both the Boulder and Lead rounds to win the ticket, so he decided to leave.
This competition was an opportunity to put the ghosts of 2020 to rest.
The Boulder round did not go as Harrison would have wanted. He started well, topping out the first boulder on his 6th attempt. Harrison struggled on the second and third, only scoring a low zone on the second boulder. On the final boulder, he had more success, topping it on his third attempt. He finished on 54.1 points, 14.6 points behind the winner, Sam Lavender.
But Harrison is the only male athlete with Lead World Cup semi-final experience.
He climbed second to last on the Lead route and never looked in doubt. He needed to score 92 points to win the competition outright due to his 10.2 point lead over the last athlete left to climb. Harrison looked calm and composed throughout the whole lead route. He topped out alone after Maya Stasiuk fell off on the headwall of the women’s route.
Harrison said after the ceremonies, “It all feels quite surreal. The moment I realised I had qualified it all came out. Years and years of so much hard work, moments of doubt, moments of confidence and everything in-between. I don’t think there are any words that can fully summarise exactly what I am feeling.”
While the immediate trip to the Olympics is funded, his preparation is self-funded. Harrison started a campaign to raise funds to prepare for the Olympics.
Oceana Mackenzie becomes a two times Olympian
Oceana Mackenzie dominated the competition to win her second Olympic ticket in Melbourne.
She won the qualification round by over 46 points. In the final, she fell off once in the whole round across Boulder and Lead. A slip at the start of Boulder 2 was her only fall. She scored 199.9 points, the highest of any athlete in the new combined format.
Mackenzie said after the ceremonies, “I’m super excited to go to Paris. I had a great time competing here at home with all my family around, so I’m feeling pretty good right now.
“Theres two things I am looking forward to at the Games. Watching other sports is one, because we didn’t get the chance to do that at the last Olympics, and secondly preparing properly. Because of the lockdowns my preparations last time around were not very enjoyable and not what I had wanted. A crowd as well is definitely going to bring up the vibes.”
Mackenzie joins Janja Garnbret, Jessica Pilz, and Ola Miroslaw as two times Olympians.
New Zealand Takes Both Tickets in Speed
While Australia won both tickets in Boulder&Lead, it was New Zealand’s turn to win tickets in Speed.
Sarah Tetzalaff won the women’s Olympic ticket for New Zealand. She set two personal bests under 9 seconds in the process. Tetzalaff was second fastest behind Grace Crowley from Australia.
Because of COVID restrictions, Tetzalaff couldn’t compete at the 2020 Oceania Qualifier. She said, “Speed was a little bit of a savour for me after that … and has been my driving force since.”
“There was a lot of emotional things happening that I had to push aside, and it worked out, but it is so unexpected. I’m going to the Games, it’s nuts, I don’t even know what that means, my brain can’t understand it.”
Julian David was the favourite for the ticket for the men.
His personal best time is 5.8 seconds. The next faster athlete, Hayden Barton (AUS), is almost half a second slower. David was fastest in qualification, finishing one run in 5.95 seconds. He made it through the final round to the race for the Olympic ticket. He would race against Hayden Barton for the ticket.
In the final race, he was so far ahead he started celebrating before he hit the finishing pad to win the ticket. He reflected later that he “really shouldn’t have done that, but I did and it feels so good, I couldn’t resist.”