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11 Gold Medals in the Paraclimbing World Championships

The Paraclimbing World Championships concluded with 11 gold medals and an indication that the field will become stronger this year

Speed concluded Thursday, giving way to the Paraclimbing World Championships. Although less watched than some of the other disciplines, Paraclimbing offers a unique display of proficiency against adversity.

With categories covering blind athletes, amputees, and athletes with limited ranges of motion, the Paraclimbing World Championships provides an opportunity for spectators to watch the sport’s greatest competition among unique categories.

Photo by Dimitris Tosidis


The event ultimately broke into 11 subcategories within the Paraclimbing discipline. In a strong display of endurance, Japan’s 25-year-old Aita Sho earned gold with the only top of the final route. This became his fifth consecutive gold medal of his career. Sho has won every competition he has competed in.

Although he did not top the route, Romania’s Razvan Nedu distinguished himself from the rest of the field with a 12-hold lead on Britain’s Jesse Dufton. The two athletes took silver and bronze respectively.


In the B2 category, a less-visually-impaired group of climbers took to the field culminating in yet another gold for Japan. Although the B1 event saw a top, B2 featured a close assortment of top ranked athletes.

Fumiya Hamanoue took gold with a score of 40+, just two holds beyond Great Britain’s Richard Slocock and Spain’s Raul Simon Franco who tied at 38+. Slocock took silver to Franco due to countbacks.

In the Women’s field, 23-year-old Abigail Robinson added her third consecutive gold medal to her collection. The British athlete has showed consistency over her limited career and will remain one to watch in the upcoming season. Robinson mastered her category as the only climber to top her route.

Austria’s Edith Scheinecker also had a strong season and climbed well enough to earn silver at yesterday’s event. Her score of 40+ did not fall too far from Robinson’s and pulled five holds beyond Italy’s Nadia Bredice who walked away with Bronze.

Photo by Dimitris Tosidis


In the Men’s RP1 category, athletes with impaired ranges of motion competed for gold against a field of strong competitors. Austria’s Angelino Zeller took first, retaining his World Champion title with a score of 39+. Zeller climbed well in Briançon as well as Innsbruck in this last year, both making him a favourite heading into yesterday’s competition.

Zeller out climbed his competitors by 13 holds in a dominating performance. Team USA’s Tanner Cislaw finished with silver while Germany’s Korbinian Franck concluded the event with Bronze.

Unlike the men’s field of largely older competitors, the younger athletes in the women’s field appeared to have a better day on the finals routes. Belgian athlete Pavitra Vandenhoven was called a rising star by a recent IFSC press release. Vandenhoven became a gold medalist at this year’s Paraclimbing World Cup at Innsbruck and Briançon. Last night, she also secured gold at the World Championships.

The young athlete earned her medal just three holds ahead of silver medalist Eva Mol. The Dutch athlete climbed into second with a score of 34+, outpacing bronze medalist Marta Peche Salinero’s 13+. The Spanish athlete’s bronze medal, at 13+, shows the developing nature of Paraclimbing and suggests that there remain strides yet untaken in the sport. Although a few consistent athletes have appeared at the top of the field, even these may not represent the best of what Paraclimbing could become.

With such high degrees of separation still present within the field, a person must presume that a tighter knit category filled with climbers at least as strong as Vandenhoven could exist. This thought results from just how close the top of the men’s and women’s fields have become in the other categories. It will be interesting to see how the sport develops by the next World Championships.

Photo by Dimitris Tosidis


Israel’s Mor Michael Sapir also climbed well, earning his fourth gold medal in the RP2 World Championships final. Sapir earned eight podiums since 2016, securing last night’s win with the only top of RP2. He appeared almost unshakable, although Team USA’s Benjamin Mayforth climbed high on the route, taking silver with 45 holds. France’s Bastien Thomas ranked third with 39+.

In the women’s field, France earned yet another medal through multi-decorated climber Solenne Piret. She ruled the RP2 Paraclimbing final and took gold in her third consecutive World Championships. Much like the other women winning gold, Piret was the favourite heading into this competition. With that said, she will only bring the level of her competitors higher.

To that effect, Great Britain’s Leanora Volpe also had a strong competition, ultimately earning silver with 39. Italy’s Lucia Capovilla took bronze with a score of 21 and completed the podium.


Although the separation for most every event appeared fair, France’s Romain Pagnoux and Mathieu Besnard became inseparable within the field of competition. The 34 and 35-year-old teammates each climbed high and well into the final. Both fell with a score of 27+. As these athletes tied in the qualification round as well, separation occurred via time.

The time-to-top ultimately favoured Pagnoux who earned his fourth consecutive World Championships win. Although both athletes must have found frustration in the method by which they were separated, they may find solace in the earning of both silver and gold for France. This became the 18 podium of Besnard’s 18 career.

Iran’s Iman Edrisi ultimately earned bronze with his run up the final route earning him 23+ holds. As Edrisi also tied Pagnoux and Besnard in qualifiers, some might suggest that greater consideration could take place in the next RP3 international competition.

Although this issue did persist throughout the men’s field, the women’s RP3 category separated well and earned France yet another gold medal. Lucie Jarrige earned her fourth World Championship victory by topping the final route. Great Britain’s Martha Evans concluded the event with a score of 33+ beating out Austria’s Katharina Ritt by four holds.

Photo by Jan Virt


After France’s impressive victory in the RP3 category, their continued proficiency through the men’s AL2 speaks to team consistency. As seen in Mickael Mawem, Oriane Bertone, Bassa Mawem, and Mejdi Schalck, the French team’s close-knit approach training provides a strong base for competitions. The French team’s execution in the Paraclimbing category furthers this point.

Thierry Delarue earned this gold medal and maintained his World Championship title as a result. He also placed first in the 2018 and 2019 IFSC Paraclimbing World Championships. Belgium’s Frederik Leys placed second ahead of Japan’s Shuhei Yukei after countbacks to the qualification round.


The AU2 category also provided an exciting display of strength as Great Britain’s Matthew Phillips outclimbed his competitors by nine holds. The spectacular display of these forearm-amputated athletes provided unique betas that made for an unpredictable competition.

While the beta remained difficult to pin down, Phillips dominating victory seemed inevitable.  This became his third World Championship title, and his eighth podium position in all eight international Paraclimbing competitions he’s competed in.

Team USA’s Brian Zarzuela earned yet another silver medal for American athletics, perhaps suggesting French-like consistency in America’s developing team. He took silver by a (+), squeaking out ahead of Germany’s Kevin Bartke.

Photo by Dimitris Tosidis

Medal Table

1. France: four golds, one silver, one bronze;
2. Great Britain: two golds, three silvers, one bronze;
3. Japan: two golds, one bronze;
4. Austria: one gold, one silver, one bronze;
5. Belgium: one gold, one silver;
6. Israel: one gold;
7. United States of America: three silvers;
8. Netherlands: one silver;
8. Romania: one silver;
10. Germany: two bronzes;
10. Italy: two bronzes;
10. Spain: two bronzes;
13. Iran: one bronze.

Just before the award ceremonies, the Paraclimbing community gathered to remember Paraclimbing World Cup medalist Melinda Vigh. The 39-year-old athlete tragically lost her life on August 7. Last night, she was a uniting figure in the sport. As medals were handed out, the cumulative mourning of the climbing community impressed a feeling of togetherness despite the competitive nature of the field.

Featured image by Dimitris Tosidis.