The 2019 Paraclimbing World Championship took place from July 16 to 17 at the Parc des Sport in Briançon, France and included a record number of athletes in attendance and an increasing number of new competitors. The two-day event was full of rematches, new winners and speedy climbs that came to a thrilling conclusion.
Gold for Japan and Romania
The first day of the World Championship introduced the men’s visual impairment categories, B2 and B3. Innsbruck bronze medalist, Fumiya HAMANOUE (JPN) was the first B2 climber on the wall and maintained a steady pace before running out of time shortly before reaching the headwall. American Justin SALAS was looking for a second consecutive world championship title, but after falling off the wall a couple of moves shy of the top, he had to settle with silver. It was Sho AITA (JPN) who ultimately reached the top hold, but not before running out of time and earning a result just below the coveted top. However, it was still enough to earn him a first-place finish.
The men’s B3 competition had some incredible finishing times with both Lux LOSEY SAIL (GBR) and Cosmin Florin CANDOI (ROU) reaching the final panel with more than three minutes left on the clock. CANDOI managed to secure the top in both the qualifications and final, taking the gold medal with a flawless performance.
DELARUE and PHILLIPS Win Again
Next up was the consecutive men’s forearm amputee (AU-2) and leg amputee (AL-2) categories. Local favorite and Innsbruck World Champion in AL-2, Thierry DELARUE (FRA) put on a strong performance to win his second World Championship title. Spain’s Urko CARMONA BARANDDIARAN fell one move short of overtaking DELARUE to settle with silver, while his compatriot Albert GUARDIA FERRER placed third, making it a double podium for Spain.
The men’s AU-2 category saw some serious competition for reigning World Champion Matthew PHILLIPS (GBR), when Mor Michael SAPIR (ISR) reached the top of the route first after topping both qualification routes. However, PHILLIPS was able to out climb SAPIR to secure gold with blazing speed, finishing his attempt with more than half the time on the clock remaining.
Double Podium for France
The men’s RP3 route saw two flawless performances in both the qualifications and finals from local French favorites Romain PAGNOUX and Mathieu BESNARD. In the end, it was PAGNOUX who claimed the gold for his third World Championship title, while BESNARD took home silver.
JARRIGE Wins Third Title
The women’s event combined RP3 and AL-2, with French leg amputee Lucie JARRIGE climbing for her third World Championship win and she did it superbly as the only women’s climber to top the route. Team Japan came away with two medals of their own with Aika YOSHIDA and Momoko YOSHIDA both reaching the headwall.
Titles Successfully Defended
First up for the second day was the women’s B2 visual impairment category. Abigail ROBINSON (GBR) was back to defend her Innsbruck title and she did so by topping the route with seemingly little effort. The men’s B1 category followed shortly after and included two Innsbruck podium competitors. Spain’s Francisco AGUILAR AMOEDO was determined to win his first gold medal after claiming bronze last year, but two-time World Champion, Koichiro KOBAYASHI (JPN) wasn’t going to let that happen. KOBAYASHI made incredible use of a heel-hook to make it onto the headwall and continued toward the top before falling a few moves short, effectively seizing his third World Championship title.
A New RP1 World Champion
Next up was the limited range, power and stability categories with men’s RP1 and women’s RP2 occurring consecutively. All three men’s RP1 Innsbruck medalists returned with the hopes of a rematch, but each of them was out climbed by Bastien THOMAS (FRA) who topped the wall with incredible speed to earn gold with a perfect performance. Two-time World Champion Alessio CORNAMUSSINI (ITA) had to settle with silver.
A Full Podium for Great Britain
The women’s RP2 saw local favorite and Innsbruck silver medalist Marlene PRAT (FRA) take on reigning World Champion Hannah BALDWIN (GBR). Ultimately, it was BALDWIN who landed in first place with two tops in qualifications, giving her a second World Championship title. Her compatriots Anita AGGARWAL and Leanora VOLPE were just behind her, falling a few moves short of BALDWIN’s highpoint to finish in second and third place respectively.
PIRET Wins Second Title
The women’s forearm amputee (AU-2) category also had the return of all three Innsbruck podium athletes competing head-to-head. American Maureen BECK and Hungarian Melinda VIGH put in a strong effort on the route falling a few moves shy of each other and finishing in second and third place. Crowd favorite and Innsbruck World Champion Solenne PIRET (FRA) was the only competitor to top the wall to earn gold once again.
A Speedy Top
The men’s RP2 brought a conclusion to the two-day event with two unbelievably fast attempts. Benjamin MAYFORTH (USA) flew up the route with just under four minutes left on the clock to claim a tentative first place on the podium. However, Behnam KHALAJI (IRI) was not to be outdone and ended in first with two qualification tops and an even faster pace of one minute and seven seconds.