Inspiring. That was the word that was used over and over again this weekend at the Westway Climbing Centre. Here, some of the world's best paraclimbers displayed amazing technique and determination during the IFSC Paraclimbing Cup, the UK's first international paraclimbing competition, hosted by the Westway and the BMC.
Fourteen climbers from France, Italy, Spain, India, USA and GBR arrived at the Westway in North London on Saturday for the qualifiers and I don't think anyone who came along to spectate at the event could fail to be awed and inspired by the fantastic effort and great poise that these climbers had as they danced their way up the routes set by the BMC's paraclimbing route setting team headed up by Ian Dunn.
Saturday started with medical assessments and route demos from members of the British Junior Climbing Team. Then qualifiers started with fervour - each competitor had two qualifying routes to attempt. All the athletes topped their first qualifying routes and their second route split them all nicely going into Sunday's final.
Isolation opened at 11am on Sunday and the first climbers came out to climb their final routes at midday in front of a great crowd of spectators on the main competition wall at the Westway.
First out were the Visually Impaired (VI) climbers. As complete silence fell over the competition arena, only the instructions of the climbers' sight guides telling each competitor where to move their hands and feet could be heard. The sounds from the crowd only came at the end of each athletes attempts with a roar of applause in appreciation of the amazing efforts of each climber they witnessed. Nicolas Moineau's winning performance was outstanding in this category.
Next came the Female Neurological and Physical Disability (NPD) category with reigning world champion Fran Brown out first. Although Fran had been suffering most of the weekend with illness, she put that to one side to narrowly beat Oriane Moreno from France with a fantastic performance.
The Male and Female Arm Amputees came next and in a virtuoso performance in bridging and rockovers, Sianagh Gallagher showed us just how easy it is to climb steep overhanging walls with only one arm. The number of 'hand' free rests she achieved on the route was staggering. Jon Sedor from the USA managed to touch the very last hold with a fantastic lunge for the top.
The Male NPD and Male Leg Amputee categories were on the steepest part of the wall on a route that had been set at F7c+. Mathieu Besnard from France touched the top hold on the route to beat current world champion Manikandan Kumar who travelled all the way from India for a single day of competition.
Last but no means least up were the Male Leg Amputees and Urko Carmona Barandiarian from Spain put in an inspring performance of balance and technique to narrowly beat Ronnie Dickson from the USA.
Full results can be found on the IFSC website
Andy Coltart - President of the IFSC Paraclimbing commission commented:
'"The IFSC were delighted to see Paraclimbers from the UK, France, Spain, Italy, India and the USA attending the competition held in London last weekend. IFSC Paraclimbing Commission members were present for the event which had 14 athletes competing. The British Mountaineering Council ran a fantastic and very professional event. The routes set were challenging but enjoyed by the athletes. Well done to all those who helped make this event possible and to Westway Climbing Centre for hosting the competition.
A collection of photos from the day is now available to view on the BMC Facebook page.
This event would not have been possible without the kind donation made by Baglan Zhunus from Kazakhstan, so a huge vote of thanks from the BMC and all the athletes that took part.
We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.
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