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By James Toney in Tokyo
Shauna Coxsey was left to reflect on mixed emotions after making her Olympic debut in Tokyo – and then retiring.
As climbing made its Games bow, Coxsey's battle with injuries finally caught up with her, as she failed to progress to Friday's women's final, finishing tenth in qualifying with only the top eight advancing.
In many ways the year delay to the Games undid the Runcorn ace’s medal hopes - in 2019 she won bronze at the World Championships but the last 12 months have seen injury struggles, including knee surgery, that meant just making the Games was an achievement in itself.
"My body is not in the shape I wanted it to be, it's been rubbish. I don't wish injury on anyone. I've had my fair share of them, my back is not going to get better which is the hardest bit, so to work around that is not really possible.
"I've trained significantly less than I would have wanted to. To make it this far and be able to get off the ground feels like such a huge achievement.
"There's a lot more work to be done to see if I can work around my back. I had a lot of treatment, it didn't work so I have constant pain and there's no solution currently.
"The pain is just there all the time. I'm the type of person whose life philosophy is, 'do something about it or get over it', so I'm getting over it day by day.
"To be here in that regard, and then everything that has gone on with the Covid delay, it's pretty insane that we're Olympians."
Two years ago Coxsey was being hailed as one of Team GB's biggest medal hopes but those ambitions were quickly recalibrated.
Slovenian medal favourite Janja Garnbret looks the one to beat in the Olympic format, which has been questioned by some in the sport.
Climbing events normally have three different elements which test a variety of skills, Coxsey a two-time World Cup winner in the timed problem-solving bouldering discipline.
However, for Tokyo all these elements were joined together into a combined event, which also impacted her medal chances.
"The format is not ideal. As an athlete, I think it's pretty risky on your body, it's intense, almost impossible to train all the aspects of the combined in a good way," added Coxsey.
"It was part of getting the sport into the Olympics which I understand and they wanted to give only one set of medals away. I would have obviously preferred the individual disciplines to be here, as they are at the World Championships.
"However, my goal coming out here was literally to get off the ground. More than anything, to be on the wall and enjoying it and feeling happy, that's worth more than anything. It's what we strive for as climbers."
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