Fossali and Miroslaw claim sport climbing world speed titles

Miroslaw retains her IFSC World Championship title from 2018 while Italy's Ludovico Fossali tops wild men's competition

Aleksandra Miroslaw successfully defended her speed climbing World Championship title with an impressive performance in Hachioji on Saturday (17th August).

The world number 11 from Poland had been an underdog for win in Japan, but beat Di Niu of China for her second IFSC Climbing World Championships.

Ludovico Fossali of Italy won the men's title, beating Jan Kriz in the final.

Pole goes back-to-back

Miroslaw won in 2018 under her maiden name Aleksandra Rudzinska, and also won a bronze in 2014.

She topped the qualifying round in Japan on Sunday with a time of 7.377 seconds, and went head-to-head with world record-holder Song Yiling in the semi-finals but her Chinese opponent fell.

Song’s compatriot Niu, who raced past Anouck Jaubert of France in the last four to reach the final, could not halt Miroslaw either, allowing the world number 11 from Poland to take the crown. Jaubert took third in the women’s over Song.

Aleksandra Miroslaw successfully defended her speed climbing World Championship title at IFSC Climbing World Championships in Hachioji on Saturday (17th August). Miroslaw won in 2018 under her maiden name Aleksandra Rudzinska and beat Di Niu of China. Image: IFSC/Eddie Fowke
Aleksandra Miroslaw successfully defended her speed climbing World Championship title at IFSC Climbing World Championships in Hachioji on Saturday (17th August). Miroslaw won in 2018 under her maiden name Aleksandra Rudzinska and beat Di Niu of China. Image: IFSC/Eddie FowkeAleksandra Miroslaw successfully defended her speed climbing World Championship title at IFSC Climbing World Championships in Hachioji on Saturday (17th August). Miroslaw won in 2018 under her maiden name Aleksandra Rudzinska and beat Di Niu of China. Image: IFSC/Eddie Fowke

Miroslaw went into these championships as something of an outsider given her current ranking, and was visibly emotional following the victory.

“Last year I was world champion and I’m still world champion,” the 25-year-old told Olympic Channel after the win, adding: “I was thinking that being world champion is amazing but being a world champion for the second time is a most amazing moment for me.”

Miroslaw won at last year’s championships in Innsbruck under her maiden name Rudzinska but has since seen her slide down the world ranking. She admitted the pressure of being number 1 had gotten to her, and that it was not easy defending her title at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games test event.

“I think the biggest change is that I’m faster than last year,” Miroslaw said. “It was harder (this year) because there are a lot of fast girls and for me it was harder because I was at the top. It’s not so easy being defending world champion. It was a really hard battle for me.

“I think if I can be in the Olympic Games it will be awesome. Tomorrow I have the combined qualification and I hope I can qualify.” - Miroslaw to Olympic Channel

Fossali benefits from false starts before winning title

On a wild day in the men’s bracket, many of the favourites crash out early, including defending champion and world record-holder Reza Alipour Shenazandifar of Iran.

World number 1 Bassa Mawem became the first big-name casualty in the men’s competition, the 34-year-old French veteran unraveling in the round of 16 against Rishat Khaibullin of Kazakhstan.

The Russian duo of Vladislav Deulin and Dmitrii Timofeev, ranked third and fourth in the world, respectively, were also sent packing in the last 16 despite having the two fastest qualifying times (Timofeev 5.542, Deulin 5.647).

Following them out the door was Alipour, who slipped with the lead in his quarter-final, allowing eventual silver medallist Kriz to go through.

Luck was certainly on Fossali’s side as the Italian’s quarter-final and semi-final opponents – China’s Zhong Qixin and Danyil Boldyrev of Ukraine – both false-started to pit Fossali versus Kriz in the final.

Fossali, who was 14th at last year’s worlds, and Kriz tripped up at the same point on the wall but Fossali managed to hold on to clinch the championship.

“It was really an amazing comp,” Fossali told Olympic Channel. “I can’t understand what’s happening because it’s the first time for Italy in speed climbing so it’s a big, big result.

“I wasn’t the fastest (in qualification) but in the final you don’t have to be the fastest than the others. You just have to control your mind.

“Last year, I made a false start. This year I was careful about it, that it doesn’t happen again. I worked really hard. I changed my coach, my mental coach, my physio. I have a big team behind me and it worked really good for me.”

Russian Stanislav Kokorin held off Boldyrev for bronze.

Sunday sees the qualifying for the women’s combined, which doubles as a qualifier for next year’s Olympics, with seven climbers punching their ticket to Tokyo 2020.

Sport climbing will make an Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 these World Championships in Hachioji (11-21 August) are being used as a test event and qualifier for the Games next year.

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