Born in Torino, Italy, in 1958, climber Marco Maria Scolaris turned his passion for the mountains into his profession, becoming a journalist and photographer. Involved in Sport Climbing since the first organised Lead competition, SportRoccia, in 1985, Scolaris was also among the founding members of FASI (the Italian Sport Climbing Federation: Federazione Arrampicata Sportiva Italiana) in 1988, acting as its Sport Director for 10 years. On the International competition scene, he became a Judge as well as a trainer for new Judges and, having attended over 40 international events as an Official, Scolaris was one of the leaders in the development of climbing competitions within the UIAA. In 2007, with a vision to further shape the future of Sport Climbing and in agreement with the UIAA, Scolaris created a new International Federation to govern the sport: the IFSC. Elected IFSC President in 2009 and re-elected in 2013 and 2017, Marco Scolaris is working to lead Sport Climbing to a youthful and urban future. Securing Sport Climbing’s presence at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and Olympic Games Paris 2024, Scolaris is now guiding the sport onwards and upwards.
Debbie Gawrych is the Secretary General of the IFSC. She has served in that position for over ten years after joining the IFSC Management Committee in 2004. Debbie began her Sport Climbing management positions as a volunteer coordinator for the Junior Climbing Competition Association (JCCA) in the USA, working her way up to the role of President of USA Climbing from 2003-2006. She served as the IFSC Vice President of Finance for two terms before her current second term as Secretary General. Debbie is an active athlete and in addition to climbing has competed in running, triathlons and tennis. Her experience in business (MBA and currently a Leadership Management Consultant) as well as competitive sports has helped her work with the IFSC staff and Executive Board to elevate the organisation and professionalism of the IFSC as a whole. Beginning in 2019, Debbie has begun to work more closely with the Strategic aspects of the IFSC; creating a global Strategic Plan from 2019-2025, and improving strategic and operational functions of key areas working alongside the staff in Marketing & Communications, Membership, Governance, and Administration.
Born in Yokohama, Japan, in 1967, Kobinata started climbing in his teenage years, travelling the world in search of new crags and challenges. Having competed at a domestic level, Kobinata began his climbing career as a Routesetter in the 1990’s, acting also as a Judge and manager of the Japanese National Youth Team. Involved with the Japan Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Association (JMSCA) since the nineties, Kobinata was elected Vice President of the IFSC Asian Council 2013-2017, was a proud member of the IFSC 2020 bidding team, and is now IFSC Vice President. Kobinata is also Vice President of the Japan Urban Sports Support Committee (JUSC). Aside from climbing, Kobinata graduated with a degree in Economics from Yokohama City University and owns his own business.
Based in Munich, Germany, Wolfgang is currently Managing Director of Climbing and Mountain Sports at the Deutscher Alpenverein (DAV) (German Alpine Club). With a sporting background, Wolfgang has a Master’s in Sport Management and a PhD in Sport Science. After attending the UIAA PA in 1998 on behalf of the DAV, Wolfgang acted as a delegate and then member of the Management Committee of organisations engaged in international Sport Climbing. As President and one of the founding members of the IFSC European Council, Wolfgang’s role encompasses the strategy and structural development of Sport Climbing in Europe. Wolfgang feels that the inclusion of Sport Climbing in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is the crowning achievement of efforts made by the IFSC and its Member Federations.
Born in France, Pierre has been climbing for more than 40 years and is retired (engineer transport-operations of French railways). He has been successively vice-president (1999-2001), treasurer (2001-2005), and president (2005-2021) of the French Mountain and Climbing Federation (FFME). He was responsible for organising major championships in Paris, the 2008 European Championships and then the World Championships in 2012 and 2016. He was elected for eight years (2009-2017) to the board of directors at the French National Olympic Committee. He wishes to put his experience at the service of the IFSC so that it develops for the benefit of Sport Climbing.
George Stainton was born in Zambia before moving to South Africa at a young age. He is an experienced Sports Administrator who sits on the South African National Climbing Federation (SANCF) Executive Board, is the President of the African Continental Council and is an elected member of the SASCOC Brand Marketing, Commercialisation & Communication Commission. He has a passion for many sports, specifically Sport Climbing, rugby, football, mountain biking, and canoeing. Growing up on a farm in Kwa-Zulu Natal, he spent many days hiking in the Drakensberg, competitively paddling on the Tugela, Umkomaas, and Umgeni Rivers, and climbing in the Howick Falls Gorge. On the professional side he was in property and retail management for over a third of his career before becoming a stadium and rights management specialist in 2000. As CEO of Ellis Park Stadium, he formed part of the successful SAFA Bid Committee presenting to FIFA for the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and was a SAFA delegate at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Tournament in Germany. He was directly involved in the commercial design and development and management of two 2010 stadiums and has consulted across Southern Africa. He has his own stadium and rights management consulting business and is a partner in two C4 Climbing Training Venues in South Africa.
Li Zhixin (Chinese 李致新; Pinyin Lǐ Zhìxīn) was born in Dalian, located in the Chinese Province of Liaoning, in 1962. A leading Chinese mountaineer, Li Zhixin and partner Wang Yongfeng (王勇峰) became the first Chinese couple to climb the Seven Summits on 23rd June 1999. Li Zhixin graduated from the Wuhan Institute of Geology in 1985, where he begun his mountaineering career within the Institute’s Mountaineering Team the previous year. Director of the Mountaineering Sports Administrative Centre (MSAC) of the State General Administration of Sports, Li Zhixin is also President of the Chinese Mountaineering Association (CMA) and IFSC Asia Representative on the Executive Board.
Based on the outskirts of Leuven, Belgium, Tijl Smitz was elected President of the IFSC European Council in 2021. Whilst studying Physical Education & Sports Management at KU Leuven he became one of the founding members of a fast-growing local climbing club, involved at a national level with performing athletes and successful events. Since 2007 he has coached for the Belgian national team, working mostly with youth athletes, and became a national routesetter for Lead and Boulder in 2012. Employed as Technical Director for the Club Alpin Belge since 2015, he has been active in the IFSC as a representative for Climbing & Mountaineering Belgium (CMBEL), European Coaches Representative in the IFSC Europe Sport Department, and participated in various IFSC working groups. Tijl’s focus within the IFSC Executive Board is on good governance, development, and sport matters.
Naomi Cleary is the President of the IFSC Oceanian Council. Based in Victoria, Australia, Naomi became involved in climbing as a founding member of the state based climbing association where her children began competing. After joining the board of Sport Climbing Australia in 2015, Naomi has been involved with all aspects of climbing in Australia including implementing a new federated organisational structure, organising National and Continental events, coordinating roles with Sport Integrity Australia, the Australian Olympic Committee, and Sport Australia. Naomi brings to the executive board experience as the owner and finance director of a property development business and board roles in the Property, Government, Not-for Profit, and Peak Industry Body fields as well as qualifications in business, accounting, and company directorship.
Based in Tennessee, USA, Pablo Hilewski is the President of the IFSC Pan American Council. Pablo studied mechanical engineering and sports biomechanics and was the founder of the first Sport Climbing school – as well as the first mountaineering and climbing association – in Carabobo, Venezuela. After beginning climbing in 1993, he was a competitor, Jury President, and Routesetter in the Venezuelan Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing (FEVME). Since 2004 Pablo has been part of the FEVME technical commission, and was the FEVME Technical Director from 2009 until 2016. His commitment to sports led him to work for the development of the continent. In 2004 he worked on the Latin American Commission for Competition Climbing of the ICC, then has been a board member on the Pan American Council as Vice President Sport since 2010. Pablo contributes to the executive board experience in the reality of the American continent, in the direction of non-profit organisations.
Climbing since the age of four, Olympian Shauna Coxsey MBE has cemented a global reputation as one of the world's best competition climbers; with a notable track record in outdoor bouldering also. A passionate proponent of widening participation in sport, when she was 18 years old, Shauna established the Women's Climbing Symposium (WCS). Now an annual event, the WCS aims to connect, develop, and inspire women to climb, whatever their level. Shauna is widely recognised as a key spokesperson for the sport and has extensive experience of working with the media and in other public speaking environments to provide insight, explanation and commentary on climbing, women in sport and access to sport. Shauna is also a trustee of Climbers Against Cancer, a charity to unite the climbing community in supporting Cancer Research which was set up by the late John Ellison.
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