(CNN)Kim Ja-in was born to climb.
Kim, 30, is a superstar of the sport climbing world. A previous world champion, she has clinched a heap of world cup titles and Asian championships since entering competitive climbing in 2004. Now she faces a new challenge: the Olympics.
“I thought it would be a good way to introduce sports climbing to the public,” Kim said. The climb itself wasn’t technically difficult, she explained, but the heat of the building’s 123-story framework proved a little tricky. She climbed the skyscraper in two and a half hours.
“It was endless,” she added. “People asked if it wasn’t scary to climb that high. Once you are at a certain level, the height becomes unrealistic in a way, (rather) than being scary… To see a helicopter flying lower than me was really memorable.”
After 19 years of climbing and 15 years on the professional circuit, Kim has little left to prove. But ask any athlete and they’ll tell you an Olympic gold medal remains among the pinnacles of sporting achievement.
The road to Tokyo became a little bumpier in early July when Kim sustained a finger injury while competing at a world cup event in Switzerland. A representative told CNN her recovery time is estimated at five weeks, adding that Kim still plans to compete in the first Olympic qualifying event in August, with more events to follow.
However the future unfolds, Kim, speaking before her injury, said that her love of the sport is not reliant upon medals. She just relishes the chance to stand in front of a new wall and climb it for the first time.
“When I finish a climb with all my might, that sense of achievement and joy are the biggest attraction when it comes to climbing,” she explained. “Climbing is everything to me.”
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