ALL EYES ON SPEED IN JAKARTA
As the IFSC World Cup 2023 series moves on to Indonesia, the focus is truly on Speed with the discipline taking centre stage for a standalone event in the capital, Jakarta, from 6 to 7 May.
In Seoul, South Korea last week, the Speed competition was set alight with multiple world records for both the men and women. Poland’s Aleksandra Miroslaw broke her own world record four times on her way to gold and set the record at 6.25 in the gold medal race.
If Miroslaw was on a high after that, then Veddriq Leonardo must be on cloud nine going under five seconds on three occasions and coming into a home World Cup with the men’s record standing at 4.90.
On breaking ‘five’, Leonardo said: “I am very happy to be able to break the record, especially to go under five seconds in the very first Speed event of the year.”
Leonardo took the record from teammate Kiromal Katibin who had set the bar at five seconds flat. At the IFSC World Cup Jakarta last year another teammate, Aspar Aspar, took gold. There is obvious strength in depth in the Southeast Asian country, but working together seems to bring the whole group forward as one: “For Speed Climbing in Indonesia, we train hard every day,” said Leonardo.
“From the climbing wall to the gym, every day. We have a lot of speed athletes, and we all train together in one training camp. It's been the same for the last few years.”
Speed Climbing is obviously ‘the’ discipline in Indonesia, but what is it like to compete at home: “Of course I am excited to compete in Jakarta,” said Leonardo. “As hosts we feel excitement because we are being watched by our people.”
With their own people watching, and with a big team, who are the ‘ones-to-watch’, apart from the record holder himself: “We have Kiromal [Katibin] and Desak [Made Rita Kusuma Dewi],” said Leonardo.
“They have potential, and they are young. They train very hard, and they always try to push themselves. They will be very exciting in front of a home crowd for the Jakarta competition.”
Excited athletes and excited crowds. Will another world record fall, and can Leonardo go quicker? “I don't know,” he says. “I'm just trying to focus on qualifying for the Olympics by collecting points. But it is possible that there will be a new record-breaking time.”
Leaving the thought hang in the air, it is no doubt the home nation has raised the bar and the competition has some new benchmarks. The Seoul event saw the lowest ever times just to qualify for the finals with 5.50 for men and 7.50 for women.
Hoping to spoil the Indonesian party are the two Chinese medallists from the IFSC World Cup Seoul, Wang Xinshang and Long Jinbao, European champion Danyil Boldyrev, and American young gun Sam Watson who set a Pan American record with a 5.02 last week.
Clocking up another Pan American record was USA’s Emma Hunt, and she will be one of the athletes pushing Miroslaw in the women’s competition. If the Indonesian men’s team show strength in depth, then the same must be said for the Polish women.
Alongside Miroslaw are the Kalucka sisters, Natalia and Aleksandra, who are always in medal contention and pushing for a podium spot with another teammate Anna Brozek.
There’s also of course Desak Made Rita Kusuma Dewi, who Leonardo has pointed out to make an impact, especially at home, and Lijuan Deng of China who won the in Jakarta last year and is defending her gold medal. The race is on.
Racing starts in Jakarta at 18:15 (UTC+7:00) tomorrow (6 May) and will be broadcast live on the IFSC YouTube channel. The event then concludes with the finals series at 20:00 (UTC+7:00) the next day(7 May) where the winners will be crowned.
News and updates about the events will be available on the IFSC website, and on the Federation’s digital channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and specifically for the Chinese audience, Douyin and Weibo.
Veddriq Leonardo celebrates breaking the Speed world record in Seoul
Photo: Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC