Indonesia's Katibin and Leonardo set sights on new speed climbing event at Paris 2024

Top speed climbers Kiromal Katibin and Veddriq Leonardo have a clear goal: to win a medal at the next Olympics. Why is Indonesia performing so well in this climbing discipline? The duo shared the secret of their nation's success: “We are like brothers, we always train together. That’s the key.”

By Lorena Encabo | Created 23 September 2022
Picture by USA TODAY Sports

Indonesia's Kiromal Katibin and Veddriq Leonardo are the top-ranked speed climbers in the world, and they are like brothers: they travel and compete together and always support each other.

They only compete in one discipline and that's why they didn't qualify for Tokyo 2020, where sport climbing made its Olympic debut with the combined event including speed, boulder and lead.

But at Paris 2024 the format will change and speed climbing will have its own set of medals.

This is something the two Indonesians chave been looking forward to, as speed requires a different training than boulder and lead.

"We want to achieve the same dream: be at the Paris 2024 Olympics together," Katibin said.

"My dream is to bring a gold medal for Indonesia at Paris 2024," added Kiromal, who smashed his own world record in July at the World Cup event in Charmonix, France by clocking a blistering 5.009 seconds!

You can watch Katibin and Leonardo in action this weekend at the home World Cup event in Jakarta live on Olympics.com.

Indonesia's dominance in speed climbing

Indonesian speed climbers own all the world records in the event:

  • 5.00 Kiromal Katibin - 8 July 2022. IFSC World Cup in Charmonix, France
  • 5.04 Kiromal Katibin - 30 June 2022. IFSC World Cup in Villars, Switzerland
  • 5.09 Kiromal Katibin - 21 May 2022. IFSC World Cup in Salt Lake City, USA
  • 5.17 Kiromal Katibin - 6 May 2022. IFSC World Cup in Seoul, South Korea
  • 5.20 Veddriq Leonardo - 28 May 2021. IFSC World Cup in Salt Lake City, USA
  • 5.25 Kiromal Katibin - 28 May 2021. IFSC World Cup in Salt Lake City, USA

And not only in the men's side. Fellow Indonesian Aries Susanti was a role model for them: she was the women's world record holder for almost one year with 6.99 seconds.

Olympics.com spoked exclusively with Katibin and Leonardo during the World Cup event in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Olympics.com (O): Indonesia is well known for having strong speed climbers. Why do you think you are so good? What is the secret behind your nation's success?

Kiromal Katbin (KK): "I think that’s because we always train together like a family and we always support each other. That’s the key."

Veddriq Leonardo (VL): "Indonesia has a lot of talented athletes in speed climbing, because when we were recruited by the National Team, we train very hard not only physically, but mentally. We had multiple technical training sessions five times a week. These are the factors of our success that has made us a very strong team."

O: What is the most important ability to be a good speed climber?

KK: "The most important aspect is mentality. A good speed climber must be very strong mentally, specially during the final rounds of a competition."

VL: "What speed climbers need to have is: good physical, technique and mentality. These three components will result in success."

Veddriq Leonardo and Kiromal Katibin during a competition in the US
Picture by USA TODAY Sports

O: You can climb in 5 seconds a 15-metre speed wall. What other thing can you do in five seconds?

KK: "Mmmmm. Drink? Tie a shoe?" [laughs]

VL: "Maybe I can send a WhatsApp message." [laughs]

Try it watching this video if you are able to tie a shoe in the meantime:

O: How did you start in this sport?

VL: "Before becoming a speed climber, I was practising lead and boulder, but I didn't progress at all. That's why I switched to speed in 2014. Back then, we had a few role models in the discipline like Aries Susanti, who was already competing at the international level."

O: How are the training conditions in Indonesia?

KK: "We are like a family. As I said earlier, we support each other, we are a team. We train very hard: morning, afternoon, evening and night. We train together and I’m very happy to be able to compete with my friend Veddriq Leonardo. We want to achieve the same dream: be at the Paris 2024 Olympics together."

We want to achieve the same dream: be at the Paris 2024 Olympics together. - Kiromal Katibin

Rivals and brothers

O: Veddriq, how is your relationship with Kiromal? How important is it for you to have him in your team and travel together to competitions?

VL: "Kiromal and I are like brothers. He makes me be more focused and makes me train harder, because we are rivals and brothers at the same time."

O: What will be your goal at Paris 2024?

KK: "In the next Olympics, speed climbing will be a separate event, we will have our own set of medals. We were not able to qualify for Tokyo, when sport climbing made its Olympic debut, because we are specialised in speed. So, our goal will be to win a gold medal at Paris."

VL: "As Indonesia is one of the strongest nations in speed climbing, we have to take advantage of this opportunity. We can have a chance to win titles, I'm confident of that. My dream is to bring a gold medal for Indonesia at Paris 2024."

We are one of the strongest nations in speed climbing, we have to take advantage of this opportunity. - Veddriq Leonardo

Indonesia at the Olympics

Indonesia has participated in 16 Olympics Games, winning a total of 37 medals: 8 golds, 14 silver and 15 bronze

21 of these medals come from badminton, one of the most popular sports in the country.

Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu's victory in the women's doubles at Tokyo was an historic moment for the country as they became the first women's doubles pair to clinch gold at the Olympics.

Apart from badminton, Indonesia is also a strong nation in weightlifting, with another 15 medals in total.

Will Kiromal and Veddriq add sport climbing medals to this list?

Speed climbing at Paris 2024

The sport climbing competition at Paris 2024 will take place from 5 to 10 August 2024 in Le Bourget, but the road to Paris will start in 2023 with three ways to qualify: the World Championship 2023, the Continental Qualifiers in 2023 and the Olympic Qualifier Series in 2024.

You can find out more here about the qualification process in this discipline.

Did you know that the speed climbing wall is always the same? And that the athletes do exactly the same route called beta? Two-time world champion Aleksandra Miroslaw explains how the fastest sport at the Olympics works:

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