Day one of the 2021 IFSC World Championships in Moscow caused plenty of shocks as Danyil Boldyrev of Ukraine and Poland's Natalia Kalucka sealed the men's and women's speed titles respectively.
Kalucka took the women’s competition on Thursday (16 September) with a final time of 7.18s against Iuliia Kaplina who was representing Russia in the final.
Two-time world champ Aleksandra Miroslaw, who broke the world record at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, had been the heavy favourite to land the title at the Viner-Usmanova Gymnastics Palace in the Russian capital. But a shock elimination after a slip in the semi-finals opened the door for Kalucka, who took her chance with both hands.
The 19-year-old winner was visibly in shock after landing her first major victory.
“I just can't believe it," Kalucka said. "This year has been very bad for me... this is my first medal!"
Miroslaw of Poland rebounded to win the small final take a bronze medal home.
In the men’s event, Danyil Boldyrev beat Spain’s Erik Noya Cardona to take the world championship title.
The Ukrainian climbed the 15m wall in an incredible 5.73s to land his second speed world title. The first came back in 2014.
Noah Bratschi of the USA took advantage of a fall from Guillaume Moro to take the bronze medal. The American won with a time of 6.31s.
Danyil Boldyrev: An epic second win for the Ukrainian
Boldyrev dedicated his second world championship gold medal to his mother.
"She is also my coach," he said after. "And she's also part of our Ukrainian federation. We have a small federation, but we are a really good [and] strong federation.
"So, it's not my gold medal. It's a gold medal for my mother because she teaches me a lot. [She introduced me to] sport at three years old in gymnastics, in judo and swimming, it's gold medal for her, for sure.
"It's a great feeling because it's a hard job mentally. I respect every athlete out there today. But today, I was bossed the mental game. I envisaged it every second of every day."
Speed climbing's own gold medal at Paris 2024 Olympics
Sport climbing made its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, and competitors were given a combined score from their efforts on the speed, boulder and lead walls.
At Paris 2024, speed climbers will compete for their own gold medal while a separate medal will be awarded for the lead and boulder combined.
With the next Games just three years away, that now puts Boldyrev right in contention for a podium finish.
"I'm excited for it, I believe Paris is the next gold medal for me" he continued. "But I'm more excited about the process, I'm excited about sport, to wake up at five o'clock in the morning every single day for running sessions and training three times a day.
"It will be new history for climbing at Paris, and I think everyone is excited for the change."
IFSC World Championships 2021: Schedule
The action continues in Moscow with the paraclimbing taking centre stage on Friday.
Olympic Channel is streaming all semi-finals and finals from World Championships in Moscow, and you can follow the action live online via Olympics.com right here. The full schedule for the rest of the weekend and beyond is below (times are UTC+2).
(Times are local / UTC +2)
Saturday 18 September
10:00 AM Women's Boulder semi-final
6:00 PM Women's Boulder final
Sunday 19 September
10:00 AM Men's Boulder semi-final
6:00 PM Men's Boulder final
Monday 20 September
10:00 AM Men's & Women's Lead qualifications
Tuesday 21 September
10:00 AM Men's & Women's Lead semi-finals
8:00 PM Men's Lead final
9:00 PM Women's Lead final