The GB Paraclimbing Team went big at the Paraclimbing World Championships 2019 in Briancon, France, and they did not disappoint. Amazing performances from a huge team of athletes culminated in a GB podium lockout, three double World Champions, and nine medals – the biggest medal haul we’ve ever seen from a GB team!
Hot and humid weather greeted the athletes on the first day of the IFSC Paraclimbing World Championships 2019 where some of the world’s top climbers in their disciplines and categories battled to either win their first gold medal or maintain their winning streak. The GB Paraclimbing Team was out in force, with 20 athletes competing across a range of categories. We knew that the team was looking strong and were hopeful of some results, but we weren’t quite prepared for what went down at the event.
To sum it up, we had a podium filled entirely with GB Paraclimbing Team athletes, three World Champions defend their title for a second year in a row, and a whopper of a medal haul with the entire team winning nine medals! Huge congratulations to the team and the coaches, and everyone that helped out with sight guiding and route reading. We’re sure this success will continue in the competitions to come!
GB Paraclimbing Team competitors
Competing in the women’s fields were: Abigail Robinson (B2), Hannah Baldwin (RP2), Anita Aggarwal (RP2), Leanora Volpe (RP2), Martha Evans (RP3), Joanna Newton (AL2), Isabella Walsh (AU2).
And competing in the men’s fields were: Matthew Phillips (AU2), James Rudge (AU2), Jesse Dufton (B1), Richard Slocock (B2), Lux Losey (B3), Kai Johnson (RP2), Kenneth Ellacott (RP2), Mikey Cleverdon (RP3), Dave Bowes (RP3), Martin Heald (AL2), Josh Senior (AL2), Stuart Sneddon (AL2), Luke Smith (RP3).
For a breakdown of the different paraclimbing categories, please read this excellent explanation from team member and reigning World Champion Abbie Robinson.
The format of the competition was that each category would compete in qualifiers in the morning, and athletes that qualified would compete in the final in the evening. The finals were livestreamed and if you didn’t manage to catch the electric action on the day, you can watch the recordings of the livestreams in the embedded videos below.
Day one: Paraclimbing World Championships
The first day of the World Championship saw the men’s visual impairment categories, B2 and B3. In the B2 finals, Richard Slocock put in an incredible effort in a very competitive field to secure the bronze medal, while B3 finalist Lux Losey practically sprinted up the route to fall on the final panel and win the silver medal.
The men’s leg amputee AL-2 category saw Martin Heald, Josh Senior and Stuart Sneddon compete for the GB Paraclimbing Team. All put in valiant efforts in a large field of fierce battling, with Martin placing 10th, Stuart coming in 11th, and Josh in 15th.
Next up was the men’s forearm amputee AU-2. James Rudge topped one qualification route and placed in 11 on the second route, which unfortunately was not enough to make it to finals, but secured him 11th place overall. Meanwhile reigning World Champion Matthew Phillips had qualified in joint first place and was ready to defend his title against some serious competition.
Coming into the final, Mor Michael Sapir from Israel had also topped both qualification routes like Matthew, and then had stepped up and topped the final route as well. The pressure was high as Matthew came out, but he climbed confidently and quickly, reaching the last few moves and jumping to latch the finishing hold with more than half the time on the clock remaining, which secured him the gold medal and his second consecutive world title.
In the men’s RP3 category we had Dave Bowes, Mikey Cleverdon and Luke Smith. Luke put in sterling efforts to come in 11th place, and Dave was agonisingly close to making finals when he topped the second qualification route, but he was just pipped in the first route to place 7th. Making it into finals for GB was Mikey, who also got one top in qualifiers and fell close to the top on the first route, meaning he’d be back to compete in the evening. Two flawless performances from Romain Pagnoux and Mathieu Besnard of France meant that gold and silver had already been taken, but bronze was still up for grabs. Mikey and Gregor Selak of Slovenia both reached the same high point in the final, but bronze went to Gregor on countback to qualification and Mikey just missed out on a podium in fourth place. Unlucky Mikey but a great result nonetheless!
Martha Evans’ category, women’s RP3, was combined with Jo Newton’s category women’s AL-2, which added pressure to the athletes as ultimately it made for a tougher competition. Martha comfortably made it into the final in second place, but unfortunately fell early on during the final when she read the sequence wrong. However, this still meant that Martha had secured third and the bronze medal, an awesome result!
Jo climbed terrifically also, but didn’t compete in the final due to the combined nature of the event. However, her performance topping one of the qualifier routes meant she’d come second in her category to win the silver medal!
That was an incredible first day for the GB Paraclimbing Team, and with the celebratory atmosphere fresh in everyone’s heads, positivity was high to see what the second day of the World Championships would bring.
Day two: Paraclimbing World Championships
After the whirlwind of the first day, it was time for Women B2, Men B1, Women AU-2, and both Men RP1 and RP2. Temps had cooled a little as Abigail Robinson stepped up to defend her title in the women’s B2 category, which she did with grace and ease – it was a flawless effort as she topped both qualification routes and was the only athlete to top the final route, emphatically winning gold and becoming the World Champion for her second consecutive year.
Jesse Dufton was competing for us in the men’s B1 category, and saw his way through to the final with fine performances – a top in the first route and a comfortable margin on the second route, falling two thirds of the way up. Competing against some heavy hitters in the final, he put in a solid performance to place 4th which is a great result considering Jesse said he thought he had more to give. We can’t wait to see you compete next time!
There were none of our GB athletes competing in the men’s RP1 category, but in the women’s RP2 category we saw a historic moment for the GB Paraclimbing Team! All three of our athletes in the category, Anita Aggarwal, reigning World Champion Hannah Baldwin and Leanora Volpe comfortably make it through to the finals, with Anita and Hannah qualifying in joint first, and Leanora in third. And they carried that success on to the final route with ease, with Hannah defending her title to become World Champion for the second time running, Anita winning silver, and Leanora only just behind to win bronze. It was a podium filled with Brits, which is a spectacular sight and many congratulations must go to those three!
In the women’s AU-2 category, Isabella Walsh had to fight hard against a tough field of competitors. She scored a top in the second route and fell a third of the way up on the first route, which was a great result to come in 7th place.
The last category out was men’s RP2, which wrapped up the exciting second day of this epic event. Kai Johnson and Kenneth Ellacott were out for the GB Paraclimbing Team, and Kenneth had extraordinarily been placed in the wrong category. Despite this, he persevered and climbed incredibly well to reach over half height on the first route, and put in a strong effort on the second qualification route to secure 16th place. Meanwhile, Kai came within a couple of places of qualifying for the final with a huge high point on the first qualification route and an impressive performance on the second to claim 8th place.
All in all this is the best result the GB Paraclimbing Team has ever seen! Again, massive congratulations to all involved. If you missed all the action, watch the livestreams below and follow their stories on our social channels.
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WATCH: Highlights Paraclimbing World Championships Finals Day 1
WATCH: Highlights Paraclimbing World Championships Finals Day 1
Results: IFSC Paraclimbing World Championships 2019
Men visual impairment B1:
1. Koichiro Kobayashi (JPN)
2. Francisco Javier (ESP)
3. Daniil Lisichenko (RUS)
4. Jesse Dufton (GBR)
Men visual impairment B2:
1. Sho Aita (JPN)
2. Justin Salas (USA)
3. Richard Slocock (GBR)
Men visual impairment B2:
1. Cosmin Florin Candoi (RUS)
2. Lux Losey (GBR)
3. Motohiro Ejiri (JPN)
Women visual impairment B2:
1. Abigail Robinson (GBR)
2. Yumi Ejiri (JPN)
3. Edith Scheinecker (AUT)
1. Angelino Zeller (AUT)
2. Hideyuki Ouchi (JPN)
3. Tanner Cislaw (USA)
1. Thierry Delarue (FRA)
2. Urko Carmona Barandiaran (ESP)
3. Albert Guardia Ferrer (ESP)
10. Martin Heald (GBR)
11. Stuart Sneddon (GBR)
15. Josh Senior (GBR)
1. Lucie Jarrige (FRA)
2. Jo Newton (GBR)
3. Jaqueline Fritz (GER)
1. Matthew Phillips (GBR)
2. Mor Michael Sapir (ISR)
3. Kevin Bartke (GER)
11. James Rudge (GBR)
1. Solenne Piret (FRA)
2. Maureen Beck (USA)
3. Melinda Vigh (HUN)
7. Isabella Walsh (GBR)
1. Thomas Bastien (FRA)
2. Alessio Cornamusini (ITA)
3. Korbinian Franck (GER)
1. Behnam Khalaji (IRI)
2. Benjamin Mayforth (USA)
3. Manikandan Kumar (IND)
8. Kai Johnson (GBR)
16. Kenneth Ellacott (GBR)
1. Romain Pagnoux (FRA)
2. Mathieu Besnard (FRA)
3. Gregor Selak (SLO)
4. Mikey Cleverdon (GBR)
7. Dave Bowes (GBR)
13. Luke Smith (GBR)
1. Hannah Baldwin (GBR)
2. Anita Aggarwal (GBR)
3. Leanora Volpe (GBR)
1. Aika Yoshida (JPN)
2. Momoko Yoshida (JPN)
3. Martha Evans (GBR)
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From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t have made it without you.
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