The final stop on the 2023 IFSC World Cup was Wujiang, China, with the Speed series - a series that started back in Seoul in April - coming to a close and crowning the annual champion.

Seoul started with a bang, and one climber who made on of the biggest bangs was Indonesia’s Leonardo Veddriq who would go on to win the 2023 men’s title.

With the magic mark of five seconds on everyone’s lips, climbing fans didn’t have to wait long until that mark was broken as Veddriq went sub-5 three times on his way to the gold medal. 

Unsurprisingly, that was a special moment for the champion and world record holder: “My favourite moment in the 2023 World Cup’s was when I broke the record and became the first climber under five seconds in the South Korea. It was a very impressive way to start the series.”

Veddriq was disappointed with a fifth in his home World Cup but came storming back with another golden performance in Salt Lake City, USA. Another two top ten finishes helped build his total of 3470 points and claim a record equalling third Speed series title.

Veddriq said: “I'm happy because this year I can still get first place. The competition and times in the men’s Speed is getting tighter. All of the athletes work hard for the Olympics, and so do I. Speed Climbing is getting crazier and makes me have to work even harder.”

While Veddriq missed Wujiang to focus on the 19th Asian Games, China’s Wu Peng took advantage and used the crowd to take his first World Cup win of the season. That gold, and the 1000 points that go with it, helped boost his score to 3405 points to take second place in the series.

Wu also had a silver medal to his name from Salt Lake City and has been a consistent performer all year, not finishing lower than seventh.

A little bit of history was made by Samuel Watson this season as he not only continued to lower the Pan Amercian record, but also became the first men’s climber from the USA to stand on the Speed series podium. 

Two fourth place finishes helped him amass 2550 points and take the third position ahead of another Chinese athlete, Long Jianguo, who won in Villars, Switzerland, and scored 2510 points, but didn’t quite show the same levels of consistency as the young American throughout the year.

Full 2023 men’s Speed rankings can be found here


Veddriq at the IFSC World Cup SeoulPhoto: Dimitris Tosidis

Natalia Kalucka topped off a fantastic year with the 2023 women’s Speed series win.

Kalucka started the year off with a second-place finish in the season opener in Seoul and followed it up with two top six finishes, then the European Games in her native Poland happened.

Kalucka won to take the European Games title and quickly followed it up with her first World Cup win, her best memory of 2023: “My favourite moment this year was my first World Cup victory in Villars, which is my favourite place. I’m obsessed with the atmosphere there. Also, I feel spiritually calm in this mountain place.”

A fifth in Chamonix and another silver in Wujiang gave Kalucka 3700 points, and the overall win. Kalukca said: “I’m very touched that I won the 2023 series title. I hadn’t expected that I could keep my level so high. Despite some family matters, I had a lot of fun competing.”

Looking ahead, Kalucka said: “Now I am going to focus on my rest time. I definitely need to reset physically and mentally. Then, I’m going to come back to my preparations for next season.”

In second place was teammate Aleksandra Miroslaw. If Veddriq started with a bang in the men’s competition, then Miroslaw was explosive. She lowered the world record multiple times in Seoul on her way to gold, the first of three in a row to start the campaign.

Miroslaw then took some time away and didn’t compete in Villars or Chamonix but returned in Wujiang to build a total of 3545 for her spot in second.

Deng Lijuan took the final gold medal of the World Cup in her home country, and this put her into third on the podium for the series. Her 3535 points consisted of a gold, two bronze, a fourth and a fifth.  

Full 2023 women’s Speed rankings can be found here


Kalucka at the IFSC World Cup Villars Photo: Lena Drapella

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