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French athlete Anouk Garnier rope climbs up the Eiffel Tower in a bid to break the world record.
French athlete Anouk Garnier rope climbs up the Eiffel Tower in a bid to break the world record.

French athlete breaks world record after climbing Eiffel Tower

French athlete Anouk Garnier broke the rope climbing world record on Wednesday morning after she ascended 100 metres (330 feet) to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. “I really did it?” the 34-year-old asked through tears while throwing herself into the arms of her family, including her “very proud” mother.

Equipped with a security cord, the two-time obstacle course world champion set off just moments earlier in front of dozens of people to climb one of Paris’ most iconic landmarks. The objective: Beat previous marks held by South African Thomas Van Tonder who climbed 90 metres (300 feet) for the men’s record and Dane Ida Mathilde Steensgaard who peaked at 26 metres (85 feet) for the women’s record.

After just 18 minutes of climbing, compared to the 20 minutes initially estimated, she finally hit 100 metres. “It is a dream come true. It was magical. If there was one thing that I never doubted, it was that I was going to do it,” Garnier told AFP.

‘What monument?’

It all began in 2022 when she landed the title of double world champion for obstacle courses in her age category. Looking for a new challenge, Garnier discovered Steensgaard, a world champion in the same sport, who established a rope climbing world record for scaling the Copenhagen Opera House. Garnier said: “I told myself ‘26 metres is not very long. And me, what monument could I climb?’”

She set her sights on the Eiffel Tower, a symbol of France around the world. “I never gave up because there were ups and downs,” Garnier said. Convincing sponsors was particularly complicated, she added. When Garnier finally arrived at the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday morning, she cried.

“It is a year of preparation, it is not just an 18-minute climb. There is all the pressure when you aim for big things like this. When it is really done, the emotion is crazy,” she said. As Garnier descended from her climb, she said it was beautiful to see her family so proud. “They are the ones who instilled in me this discipline of sport, of always doing the best, always seeking excellence. It is thanks to them that I can do extraordinary things like today,” she said.

‘Another 10 years’

She also took up this challenge for her mother, who has cancer, to raise money for League Against Cancer, an organisation that works to prevent cancer and support patients. “I saw her struggling so much that I wanted to do my part,” Garnier said. Garnier now wants to take a break, but it will be a short one because her schedule is already fully booked. Other than obstacle courses, which she plans to take up again after abandoning them a few months ago, she will be carrying the Olympic flame in Marseille on May 9 before becoming an ambassador for the volunteer program of this summer’s Paris Olympics. Garnier is already thinking about future challenges. “I’m 34 but my body is 20,” she said. “I am in great shape and I hope to go on like this for another ten years.” — AFP

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