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Olympics

Russia’s Dark Horse: Victoriia Meshkova 

The young lead climber took the international scene by storm with a triple gold in the European Continental Championships last year.

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20-year-old Victoriia Meshkova, hailing from Ekaterinburg, Russia, is lesser known than many of her fellow Olympians. A climber on the Youth circuit since 2014, Meshkova has only been competing in the Adult IFSC runnings since the 2019 season. That is in effect, well… a one-season career, given the way in which the COVID-19 pandemic hamstrung the 2020 season. 

Nevertheless, she’s made remarkable headway in a variety of disciplines throughout her relatively short career, regularly competing in Speed and Bouldering in addition to Lead, her favorite competitive discipline. 

Meshkova at the 2020 Innsbruck Lead World Cup. Photo by Lena Drapella/IFSC

Meshkova came in 23rd in Bouldering earlier this year in the Meiringen World Cup, and in this month’s Innsbruck World Cup she came 4th in Lead and 37th in Bouldering. Her Lead finish also represented her first time climbing in a World Cup Finals. “First experience in final of World Cup 🏆 Fourth place💪,” she wrote on Instagram after Innsbruck. “It was really cool 🌠. Positive emotions, enjoying my work. Of course I miscalculated with the layout. But the prize for the most epic fall is definitely mine 😂🤪.”

Meshkova catapulted her way into the limelight last November after tagging a triple win with first-place finishes in Combined, Lead, and Bouldering at the 2020 European Continental Championships (she came 16th in Speed) in Moscow. This unbelievable triple gold medal, following what was a woe begotten season of lockdowns and training restrictions for many international climbers, granted her an Olympic ticket. 

Although she has less of a proven track record than many fellow Olympians, this triple win demonstrated that Meshkova is undoubtedly a jack-of-all-trades. The Russian has the chops to tackle a wide variety of disciplines, which is arguably the ultimate formula for a Tokyo Olympic champion. 

“I didn’t fully believe that it was possible …” she wrote on Instagram after the European Continental Championships. “The realization that it was just one ticket, only the first place, all or nothing … It seemed to be something unattainable. And after two doubles in bouldering and the difficulty of collecting the third gold, it seemed like something transcendental.”

Meshkova is one of three Olympic climbers hailing from Russia, alongside longtime competitive standout Alexei Rubtsov (who also secured his ticket at the 2020 Europe Continental Championships) and Speed climbing phenom Iuliia Kaplina, current holder of the Women’s Speed World Record (6.964 seconds), a time which she set at the 2020 ECC, as well.