BERN 2023 PREVIEW: MEN’S AND WOMEN’S SPEED
Speed Climbing in 2023 has gone to another level ahead of the IFSC World Championships in Bern with records broken and qualification times to finals tumbling.
Of the 428 climbers in the Swiss capital from 1 to 12 August, 143 will take to the Speed wall – 83 men and 60 women. The top two men and top two women will also get a ticket to Paris 2024 next year.
Among the men’s starting line-up it’s hard to look past an Indonesian team bursting with talent, and a fair bit of speed too.
The headline grabber from the start of the year has been Veddriq Leonardo. The first Speed climber to go under the magic five seconds in competition, not once, not twice, but three times in the kick off Speed World Cup of the season in Seoul, South Korea. A gold medal accompanied the new world record of 4.90.
That seemed to light a fire within the team with former world record holder Kiromal Katibin taking two World Cup bronze medals and Rahmad Adi Mulyono taking his first ever World Cup gold medal in the last Speed event before the World Championships in Chamonix, France.
Whilst Leonardo has the world record, and with it the Asian record, in the men’s category every continental record has fallen in 2023.
USA’s Sam Watson broke the Pan American record in Seoul with 5.02. Italy’s Matteo Zurloni broke the European record in Chamonix with 5.14. New Zealand’s Julian David broke the Oceania record also in Chamonix with 5.80. And last but not least, South Africa’s Joshua Bruyns broke the African record with 5.99, also in Chamonix.
With times in qualification coming down, it means that Bern is going to be quick straight from the start. Especially when you add in the likes of Omasa Ryo of Japan, who won the country’s first ever Speed World Cup medal in 2023, the Ukrainian defending world champion Danyil Boldyrev and another strong team in China who boast a few speedsters of their own in Wu Peng, Long Jianguo and Wang Xinshang – just to name a few.
One man trying to get in the mix of such speed talent is Spain’s Erik Noya Cardona who has a silver medal from the 2021 World Championships that he aims to upgrade.
Talking about his year so far Noya Cardona said: “In sports terms it has been a rollercoaster year with lots of ups and downs. It’s been really busy, but at the same time awesome because I have learned a lot – from competitions, training, travelling, and most importantly from myself by trying to look inside searching for balance and happiness.
“Because of the main events of the season, at some point, I felt a lot of pressure but now I have learned to handle it and feel calmer and more confident, which is great. In general, this year I climbed a lot, trained a lot, went to many nice events and met new and old friends. I really can’t complain. My personal life is stable and I’m healthy, so what else can I ask for?”
Although not adding a medal to his 2022 World Cup and Continental silverware, Noya Cardona has been bringing his times down and notched up a personal best in Chamonix with a 5.28, so what goals does the Spanish speedster have for the World Championships: “Having another opportunity to participate in such a big event feels great and makes me proud of myself. My goal is simply - do my best possible performance, do a new personal best, and qualify to Paris 2024.”
When it comes to women’s Speed it’s the Polish team that immediately springs to mind, and none more so than the world record holder Aleksandra Miroslaw. Coming out of the 2023 blocks in some style lowering her own record four times at the same event in Seoul. The current time is 6.25.
Miroslaw got gold in that event and followed it up with another two for a perfect three from three World Cups. Despite slipping to silver at the European Games in her home country, Miroslaw will be at the top of everyone’s hit list.
Debriefing her 2023 Miroslaw said: “The first half of the season has been very good for me. I'm very grateful for the last few months. The successes of recent years attracted sponsors who enabled me to fully focus on my work. I expanded my team and now everything is really moving forward - each team member knows what they have to do.
“Training has been good, but also very tough and challenging. It’s probably been the best training period of my career. With my coach we put the bar even higher than before Tokyo 2020. We worked very hard to bring the best out of me for upcoming competition.”
When it comes to the World Championships specifically, Miroslaw said: “A lot has changed since the last event. The level of competition has increased, and new competitors have entered the scene. My medal from the previous Championships is already in the past. I try not to focus so much about the outcome, but more about giving my best.”
Taking the European Games title was teammate Natalia Kalucka who also is the defending world champion. Kalucka also backed up her European Games win with her first ever World Cup gold in Villars, Switzerland, so is in a little bit of a hot streak coming into Bern.
Twin sister Aleksandra Kalucka also has two medals to her name from the World Cup and Continental level in 2023 to add to the Polish firepower in search of podiums.
If the Indonesian men are fast and plenty, then the women are catching up. In the final World Cup before the Worlds in Chamonix, Rajiah Sallsabillah claimed her first ever World Cup gold and was joined on the podium by teammate Nurul Iqamah who took bronze. The two are joined by Desak Made Rita Kusuma Dewi who is a constant performer on the world stage.
Splitting the two Indonesians in silver on the Chamonix podium was France’s Victoire Andrier who will be hoping the prospect of an Olympic Games in her homeland can inspire her to another top two finish and a Paris 2024 ticket to accompany a World Championships medal.
Although not every women’s continental record was broken in 2023, there were still a few. Miroslaw added the European record by taking the world, USA’s Emma Hunt broke the Pan American record with 6.68 and Deng Lijuan the Asian record with 6.47.
With two Youth Worlds titles to her name from 2021 and 2022, Italy’s Beatrice Colli has stepped into the senior ranks and hit a personal best time at the World Cup in Villars, Switzerland, and took her first senior international medal with a bronze at the European Games in 2023 and will hope the upward trajectory continues in Bern.
Speed Climbing takes place at the IFSC World Championships Bern 2023 on 10 August with qualification at 09:00 (UTC+2:00) and Finals at 20:00.
News and updates about the IFSC World Championships Bern 2023 will be available on the official website of the event, on the IFSC event page, and on the Federation’s digital channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and exclusively for the Chinese audience, Douyin and Weibo.
This is the second in a series of Bern 2023 previews following women’s Boulder and Lead, and with men’s Boulder and Lead and Paraclimbing still to come.
Poland's Aleksandra Miroslaw competes at the IFSC World Cup Seoul
Photo: Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC