‘Uuuh-aaah!’ Sport climbing’s Ondra screams his way to top

Aug 3, 2021, 2:41 PM | Updated: Aug 4, 2021, 6:23 am

TOKYO (AP) — Weightlifters are among the most vocal athletes at the Olympics, letting out screams as they lock out at the top of a lift: “ahhhhhh!”

Tennis players have long been known to be grunters, usually with some form of “ha-uh!” or “ha-ooah!”

The loudest vocalizations of the Tokyo Games may come from the grounds in one of the Olympic program’s newest sports.

Adam Ondra is widely considered the best climber in the world and a gold medal favorite in sport climbing’s Olympic debut.

He’s also a bit of a yeller.

“It might sound bad, but it helps me,” Ondra said.

Some scientific studies say he may be right.

Whatever it is, it’s hard to argue with the results.

Ondra has become the rock star of rock climbing, a long-limbed, long-necked Czech who moves up sheer faces like a spider across a web.

The 28-year-old has tackled more of the world’s most difficult climbs than anyone, scaling routes with names like Silence, Change and Pure Imagination — ascensions that leave even above-average climbers standing on the ground shaking their heads no.

Ondra also is arguably the world’s best indoor climber, winning four world championships and finishing in the top three seven other times.

He may be the loudest, too.

There are other climbers known for their wall-echoing wails, like American Chris Sharma and German Olympian Alex Megos.

Ondra takes it to another octave, just as he does on the rock face.

His ascension of Silence 2017 is considered the hardest climb in the world, a 45-meter pitch curving up a wall in a Norwegian cave rated at 9c. Ondra originally dubbed the climb Project Hard before changing it to Silence.

He should have called it Loud.

A film crew was on hand to document the climb, following Ondra along as he pulled himself along by the fingertips, wedged into difficult positions, even hanging by one foot upside down. It also documented Ondra’s cries echoing off the cave walls, a series of screams, growls and grunts punctuated by a shrieking “uuuh-aaah!” after clipping into the final bolt.

As Ondra’s celebrity has risen with his climbs up rock walls, his audible exaltations have become part of popular culture, turned into ringtones, GIFs and mashups with songs. A compilation of his screams has been mixed with metal music and another person inserted his shrieks into Taylor Swift’s ” I Knew You Were Trouble.”

“If I’m focused on a certain move and I scream, I know I’m 100% breathing out,” he said.

Ondra is onto something in that aspect.

Tennis players have been grunting for years to add power and rhythm to their strokes. Screaming, shrieking and grunting has infiltrated other sports as athletes try to find any extra edge.

There’s some science behind it.

A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science had 30 people squeeze a device three times and measured their grip strength as they vocalized, exhaled forcefully or breathed passively. It found compression power increased by 25% when they vocalized compared to 11% while just exhaling.

A second study in 2015 had 30 people jump forward as far as possible while exhaling forcefully and again while yelling. Those who yelled jumped about 5% farther.

Both studies, conducted at Drexel University, attributed the yell-induced power boosts to an increased response by the sympathetic nervous system, which governs the body’s fight or flight response.

“The shrieking comes when I’m at my absolute limit,” Ondra said.

Ondra was relatively quiet on the lead, speed and bouldering walls during qualifying Tuesday in Tokyo, his loudest vocalization coming after he tackled the first bouldering “problem” after multiple attempts.

Aomi Urban Sports Park, where sports climbing is being held, also isn’t conducive to spectators getting a chance to hear Ondra scream, thanks to nonstop music and chatter between two public address hype/announcers alternating in different languages.

That could change if things heat up during Thursday’s finals.

A gold medal on the line, Ondra could find himself in a tight spot on the wall, needing to muster up all his strength to contort his body while hanging from his fingertips.

Then it will come: “bah-bah-uhhhhhh-aaaaahhhhh!”

___

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Wojcik scores 18 points, leads Brown past Bryant 72-60

SMITHFIELD, R.I. (AP) — Paxson Wojcik scored 18 points as Brown beat Bryant 72-60 on Friday night. Wojcik was 6 of 12 shooting, including 3 for 8 from distance, and went 3 for 4 from the line for the Bears (4-4). Kalu Anya added 15 points while shooting 6 of 8 from the field and […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

No. 13 Creighton women rally, beat No. 25 Villanova 67-46

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Molly Mogensen scored 22 points, Morgan Maly added 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting and No. 13 Creighton beat 25th-ranked Villanova 67-46 on Friday night. The Wildcats built a 19-9 first quarter lead and their success ended there. Creighton (7-0, 2-0 Big East) went on to outscore Villanova 17-8 and 17-7 in the […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Burton scores 24, Pitt beats N.C. State 68-60 in ACC opener

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Jamarius Burton scored 24 points, Blake Hinson had 13 points and eight rebounds and Pittsburgh beat North Carolina State 68-60 on Friday night in an ACC opener. Pittsburgh (6-3) won its fifth straight game after starting 1-3. Nike Sibande made a long jumper with a foot on the 3-point line to […]
19 hours ago
Connecticut's Aaliyah Edwards, left, goes up for a basket as Providence's Emily Archibald, center, ...
Associated Press

UConn opens Big East play with 98-53 victory over Providence

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Lou Lopez Senechal and Aubrey Griffin scored 18 points apiece and No. 3 UConn beat Providence 98-53 Friday night in the Big East Conference opener for both teams. Azzi Fudd scored 17 points, Aaliyah Edwards had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Nika Muhl added 12 assists — her fourth straight […]
19 hours ago
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson gestures on the field during an NFL football practice a...
Associated Press

If NFL had its way, Deshaun Watson’s return would be on hold

If the NFL had its way, Deshaun Watson wouldn’t be playing this week or anytime this year. The league wanted to suspend Watson for at least one season over sexual misconduct allegations but settled for 11 games after an independent arbiter initially gave him a six-game ban. Watson, who has been accused by more than […]
19 hours ago
North Carolina's Aleigh Gambone (16) is congratulated on her goal against Florida State by Tori Del...
Associated Press

North Carolina women beat defending champ FSU in College Cup

CARY, N.C. (AP) — Tori Hansen and Julia Dorsey scored seven minutes apart in the second half and North Carolina held off No. 1 overall seed Florida State 3-2 on Friday night in the semifinals of the NCAA Division I women’s soccer championship. North Carolina (20-4-1), making its 31st College Cup appearance, is searching for […]
19 hours ago
‘Uuuh-aaah!’ Sport climbing’s Ondra screams his way to top