Yannick Flohé of Essen, Germany, was born into a climbing family: both of his parents climbed competitively, and they started him at the age of 8. Now 20 years old, Yannick has been competing nationally and internationally for years and gave an impressive performance at the combined World Championships in Hachioji, Japan—he placed third in Bouldering and missed qualifying for the Olympics by just one spot. On the wall, Flohé moves with unapologetic confidence, unafraid to give the crowd a sideways smile. He has spent most of his climbing career in gyms, but he says, “I really like outdoor too, maybe even more than indoor climbing. But I don’t have any rock-climbing areas close to my home.” He has sent routes up through 8c+/5.14c, mostly in Luxembourg and France. His dad still takes him on climbing and ski-mountaineering trips. -By Leyla Brittan
Yoshiyuki Ogata made waves in June with his first bouldering World Cup win, at Vail, but the 21-year-old has been proving himself as a multi-disciplinary climber for years. In 2017, he placed first in both Lead and Bouldering at the IFSC Youth World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, and in May he set a new Japanese speed-climbing record. Ogata, of Yokohama, Japan, began bouldering at the age of 10 after seeing the sport on TV. He was quick to develop power and precision on the wall, often looking like a wind-up toy that’s been a little too wound up. Within three years, he was competing nationally, and at 16, he participated in his first World Cup. “I always try not to think about results too much,” he said. “I just keep smiling and enjoy climbing. And luckily there are many strong climbers in Japan,” who provide camaraderie and motivation during training sessions. -By Leyla Brittan
Bassa and Mickael Mawem are rarely seen without each other. While they’re cranking one-arms or holding front levers, sticking massive dynos or jumping hurdles, these two are known as one unit—Les Frères Mawem, or the Mawem Brothers. It’s no surprise that when Mickael Mawem qualified for the 2020 Olympics following the Combined World Championships, he buried his head into his brother’s shoulder, overcome by the emotions of elation and relief. Mickael, 29, says that he started climbing because of Bassa, who is six years older. Since hearing about the inclusion of climbing in the Olympics, Bassa has been helping Mickael become accustomed to long training days involving all three disciplines. During competitions, Mickael is calculating in his attempts but explosive to the point of campusing difficult crux sections. Last year, he placed seventh in the World Combined Championships. Mickael managed to match that result again this year, which was enough for the coveted Olympic invite. “My first emotion was; I can’t realize this happened. I have my ticket for the Olympics. I called my family, my mother, my father and my sister. My second emotion was; it’s indescribable,” he told Mad Rock, one of his sponsors.
The Next 12 Olympic Athletes