World record tumbles at speed climbing World Cup event

Indonesian pair Veddriq Leonardo and debutant Kiromal Katibin battle it out to see who ends the day as the world record holder at the Utah-hosted event. Japan's Olympics-bound climber NONAKA Miho grabs bronze in the women's competition. 

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Indonesia’s Veddriq Leonardo set a new world record of 5.208 in the Speed Climbing World Cup final that took place yesterday (28 May) in Utah.

The climber from Pontianak had seen compatriot and World Cup debutant Kiromal Katibin claim an astonishing world record in the first race in qualifying, climbing the 15-metre high wall in 5.258 seconds while up against the United States' Darren Skolnik. The 20-year-old pulverised the world's best time set by Iran’s Reza Alipourshenazandifar in April 2017 in Nanjing, China of 6.24 seconds.

Leonardo also broke the previous record during the qualifying rounds (5.375 seconds), but when the Indonesian pair came up against each other in the final, the 3,000-strong crowd knew they were about to see a masterpiece.

Leonardo raced up the wall, besting his teammate and breaking the world record for the third time that day. Swinging from the safety rope, the 24-year-old punched the air in celebration while Katibin clapped his teammate in appreciation.

“I’m very happy today for this gold medal and for breaking the world record,” Leonardo said after the final. “It’s been amazing to compete alongside my teammate. We didn’t come here for the victory, we came here to break records.”

The bronze medal went to Poland’s Marcin Dzienski (5.842 seconds) who beat home favourite John Brosler (6.891 seconds) who slipped on a few moves on his way to hitting the buzzer at the top of the wall.

Another Polish athlete and reigning women's speed climbing world champion, Aleksandra Miroslaw (27), won her fifth World Cup gold medal with a time of 7.382 seconds. The 27-year-old beat the United States’ teenager, Emma Hunt (18) who won her country’s first-ever Speed World Cup medal with a time of 7.539 seconds.

The women’s podium was completed by Japan’s NONAKA Miho (8.958 seconds) who will represent Japan at Tokyo 2020.

Bouldering still to come with finals taking place on Sunday

This week’s tournament in Salt Lake City is part of a doubleheader enabling athletes to get some competition practice ahead of sport climbing’s debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, set to take place in 2021. The events also provide an opportunity for the likes of the Indonesian duo to hone their skills in a competition environment despite not being part of the 40-strong climber contingent – 20 of each gender – who have qualified for the Summer Games.

A bouldering competition – one of the three disciplines that make up sport climbing at the Olympic Games, alongside speed and lead climbing – was held last weekend, with another bouldering event taking place this weekend with qualifiers today (29 May) and semi-finals and finals tomorrow.

Sport climbing makes it debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on 3 August 2021. See here for more information on the three-discipline event.