In the final Speed competition of the 2023 IFSC Climbing Youth World Championships in Seoul, South Korea, it was China and USA who took the top step of the podiums with Zhang Tianxiang and Michael Hom taking the titles.

China’s Zhang and teammate Yang Feiyan had been the ones to beat from the women’s qualification round holding the top two spots, and the pair carried that on through to the semi-finals.

Zhang had to post her quickest time of the competition against USA’s Sophia Curcio in the semi-finals with the Chinese athlete winning with 7.79 compared to 7.84 to set up the final match-up with Ukrainian Kseniia Horielova.

Horielova took advantage of a fall from Yang in the semi-finals to secure a medal from the golden showdown with Zhang – also breaking the Chinese pairs gold-silver double ambitions.

Zhang overcame Horielova 7.88 to 9.33 to secure gold with her teammate posting the quickest time of the competition – 7.43 – in the small final against Curcio to make sure there would still be two Chinese medals.

Zhang said: “I’m very excited. It’s the first time I’ve ever been abroad to compete, and I’ve won a gold. I appreciate the coaches and all the team, it’s a great achievement.”

Full women’s U18 Speed results can be found here


Photo: Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC

USA’s Hom was the only climber in the men’s competition to break the six second mark, doing so twice – once in the quarter-finals and once in the semi-finals. 

Those quick times set the American up for a shot at gold against a home favourite in South Korea’s Kim Dong Jun who was hovering around six seconds throughout his finals round.

Despite the raise in the noise levels when he was introduced for the final race, Kim couldn’t quite overcome his rival Hom who took advantage of a slip to win gold with 6.38 compared to Kim’s 9.88. 

Hom said: “I’m exhausted. I’m very happy. I’m a little jittery right now to even think about anything. I wasn’t really expecting a medal, I know in sport you should always expect to do well but I wasn’t expecting to do this well. I was just trying to focus on my own runs and not the other guy and I was really in the moment, and I think that helped.”

With Hom confirmed in gold position and Kim in silver, it was down to Japan’s Tanii Kazuki and Uegaki Ginta to fight it out for bronze and the last place on the podium after they both lost tight semi-final runs.

It was Tanii who came out as the winner with eight seconds flat as his teammate fell, and with it confirmed his medal.

Full men’s U18 Speed results can be found here The 2023 Youth Worlds will draw to a conclusion tomorrow in Seoul with the semi-finals and finals of the men’s and women’s U16 Boulder.


Photo: Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC

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