Climbing at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, will begin tomorrow with 108 athletes from 16 nations competing at the impressive Shaoxing Keqiao Yangshan Sport Climbing Centre - a purpose built, climbing specific venue.

There will be three sets of medals available for both men and women in the Boulder & Lead, individual Speed, and the team format Speed Relay in which three climbers from each nation will take a shot at the 15m wall for a combined team time.

Since the multi-sport event started on 19 September the hosts China have been dominating the medal table, but with a world class field of athletes from world record holders and IFSC World Cup winners to Olympians in the start list, medals will be hotly contested.

Two days of Speed will begin the Sport Climbing feast on 3 and 4 October before the Boulder & Lead takes over for the final two days of the Asian Games on 6 and 7 October – meaning Sport Climbing will be among the final medals decided.

The headline act in the Speed will undoubtedly be the Indonesian’s. With the current and former world record holders competing in the individual, Veddriq Leonardo and Kiromal Katibin will be joined by Asian Games bronze medallist Aspar Aspar and Rahmad Adi Mulyono, who has broken five seconds at competition level, for the Relay.

Even with only three of the four athletes competing, the Indonesian men look a force to be reckoned with, and China are always up for the challenge, especially with competitors like Wu Peng and Long Jinbao in their ranks.

Some other climbers to have shown some speed this year and in the hunt for medals in the individual with be Kazakhstan’s Rishat Khaibullin, Japan’s Omasa Ryo who is fresh off a World Cup medal in Wujiang last week and the defending Asian Games champion Reza Alipour Shenazandifard from Iran.

In the women’s Speed the names from Indonesia and China jump out yet again in both the individual and the Relay. World champion Desak Made Rita Kusuma Dewi is joined by World Cup medallists Nurul Iqamah and Rajiah Sallsabillah for Indonesia while the hosts boast names like Deng Lijuan and Niu Di.

Moving into Boulder & Lead and two names can’t be missed - Japan’s Anraku Sorato and Mori Ai. 

Anraku seems like he wants to compete in every competition in 2023, and at this point in time no one would bet against him winning a medal in every competition he enters. Mori has been in fine form at both the World Championships and World Cups standing on the top step of the podium in both.

Olympian Pan Yufei will be China’s hope in the men’s competition with South Korea also bringing their own Olympians in Chon Jongwon in the men’s and Chaehyun Seo in the women’s.

With the IFSC World Cup just an hour away in Wujiang last week, climbers like Pakistan’s Fazal Wadood and India’s Aman Verma took the opportunity to get some top-class international experience in with the hope the dividends pay off at the Asian games for them.

Competing in the men’s competition, Thailand’s Teeraphon Boondech said: “It wasn’t good for me last time at the Asian Games as I got injured so I am looking to do better this time around. I really want to make finals in Boulder & Lead here.”

Iran’s Elnaz Rekabi said: “I’m feeling really good. It’s an important event for me as it’s the first time this year I can test the Boulder & Lead discipline. It’s a good test on the road to the Olympics. 

“I want to test myself in this event. From experience I want to focus on myself, and I know that if I do that a podium is achievable. This event will also be good for future events on my road to Paris.”

Competition begins at 11:30 (UTC+8:00) with the women’s Speed qualification ahead of the men. Medals are up for grabs from the start with the winners of both competitions crowned from the finals starting at 20:00 the same day.


Elnaz Rekabi (IRI) competes at IFSC World Cup VillarsPhoto: Lena Drapella/IFSC 

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