WUJIANG RETURN FOR FINAL IFSC WORLD CUP OF 2023 SEASON
The IFSC World Cup returns to China this weekend as Wujiang hosts Lead and Speed climbers from across the globe from 22 to 24 September in the final World Cup of the 2023 season.
Both Lead and Speed medallists will step onto the podium at the new Fenhu Culture and Sports Center with the 2023 season champions also crowned in Wujiang – on the eighth occasion the city has played host to an IFSC World Cup.
The last IFSC World Cup to be held in China was in 2019 before the global pandemic, and for some of the athletes it is a welcome return to the Asian country.
Poland’s Speed climber Anna Brozek said: “I feel more relaxed as it’s the last World Cup, but also more tired as the season was very long. It’s the first in China after a long time and it feels a little like going back to the start of my Sport Climbing years, so that’s a really nice feeling.”
Italy’s Lead climber Marcello Bombardi echoed the feelings saying: “I’m excited to be back in China as it’s been a few years since we were here. I’m also a bit excited to finish the season and have a little time off and rest a bit before the next year of qualifying events.”
For Bombardi, despite the tiredness, the goal for Wujiang is simple: “I want to have a good qualification round first, that’s for sure. Then a good run in the semi-finals which I have lacked this year. Those are the goals for me.”
Marcin Dzienski, Poland’s Speed climber, also has some very simple goals to finish the competition year: “I’m feeling a little sad but also happy as it’s a long season. I hope I will do some, no, I want to do some good runs.”
In a running theme from the athletes, Australia’s Lead climber Oceania Mackenzie said: “I’m excited to be back in China after so long, I love travelling here so it’s really nice. I’m feeling quite tired after a long season actually, but I’m here to do my best and have some fun.”
As the IFSC World Cup season draws to a close, for some climbers like Mackenzie the competition season is not over as there is still Pan American, Oceania and African qualification events to come in the following months. So, does that factor into the Australian climbers thinking?
“I’m just here for the Lead World Cup, like always,” said Mackenzie. “I mean I guess it helps to add points, but for me to qualify for the Olympics my main goal is the Oceania Championships at the end of November.”
With 238 athletes from 32 countries registered for the event, and both event and season prizes up for grabs, the competition is set to be another action-packed affair in the pre-Olympic year.
Some of the names on the Lead start list have already made their way to the top step of a 2023 IFSC World Cup podium such as Switzerland’s Sascha Lehmann and Japan’s young gun Anraku Sorato in the men’s, and Slovenia’s Vita Lukan in the women’s. Lukan will also be joined by Lead world champion, Japan’s Mori Ai.
In the Speed start list, fresh from Olympic qualification and a new world record in Rome last week, Aleksandra Miroslaw of Poland is alongside sisters Aleksandra and Natalia Kalucka in the women’s competition with Pan American record holder, Sam Watson of the USA, and 2018 Wujiang winner, Aspar Aspar of Indonesia, lining up in the men’s.
The action starts with both Lead and Speed qualification for the men and women on Friday 22 September before Lead semi-finals and Speed finals on the 23 September. The competition will close with Lead finals on 24 September.
Marcello Bombardi (ITA) in action at IFSC World Cup Koper 2023
Photo: Jan Virt/IFSC