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Defended Titles and Future Growth: 2019 Paraclimbing World Championships

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Large crowds, 42 medals and 167 athletes representing 24 different countries. Past champions defended their titles and dozens of new climbers took the stage during the 2019 Paraclimbing World Championships. Over the course of two days, July 16-17, athletes in 14 different categories climbed for a spot on the podium in the Parc des Sports in Briançon, France. 

For the first time, the Paraclimbing World Championships did not coincide with the World Championships due to a “scheduling error.” Despite a widely signed petition to keep paraclimbers and climbers in the same World Championships, the IFSC Plenary Assembly held firm that there was no other solution to the dilemma.  

[Also Read: Keep Paraclimbing in the World Championships!]

The IFSC chose the alternative city, Briançon, to host the Paraclimbing World Championships due to the city’s tried and true history of hosting successful World Cups. Despite not having the dual draw of the able-bodied World Championships, a record number of paraclimbers showed up and the venue was brimming with specatorors. Of the 167 registered athletes, nearly 70 were competing for their first time. 

“It was a very exciting event,” said RP-2 climber Hanna Balwin (GBR) in an interview with IFSC. “A lot bigger crowd than I expected.” Balwin had just won her second Championship title. 

As Sport Climbing continues to grow, IFSC is working to better represent the paraclimbing community. Throughout the competition, athletes had the opportunity to vote for athlete representation in a new committee. The long term goal: to get Paraclimbers into the Paralympics 2028. 

The Paraclimbing Categories were Arm and Leg Amputees (AU for Amputee Upper and AL for Amputee Lower), Visual Impairments (B for Blind), and Neurological and Physiological (RP for limited range and power). (Each category is further divided into subcategories with a number, 1-3, from most to least severe. AL-1 climbers, for example, are seated while Al-2 climbers have one amputated leg.)

The competition began early on July 16 with the Visual Impairment categories. In Men’s B-1, Koichiro Kobayashi (JPN) claimed his third World Champion title at the ripe age of 51. In B-2, Sho Aita (JPN) timed out before completing his run, but his score was enough for gold. Justin Salas (USA), the B-2 Champion in Innsbruck, took second. 

In the Women’s AU-2, Maureen Beck from the U.S. was looking to earn her third World Champion title. In a close round, Beck fell a few moves from the top and Solenne Piret (FRA) topped the route to take gold. 

“What a wonder,” said Beck on Instagram. “I worked my ass off this last year and, despite battling what seemed like endless injuries, improved on my standing from last year with a silver medal- which, because @solennepiretis such a monster, is as good as gold in my book! Most importantly, I felt GOOD. I felt like I climbed WELL, not foggy like last year, but powerful and determined.”⁣

On the men’s AU-2 side, Matthew Phillips from Great Britain defended his Champion title. Trevor Smith, from the U.S., was also in this category. Smith placed second in the 2018 Innsbruck World Championships and fourth in Briançon. 

“I definitely felt I could’ve climbed better than what I did, but you win some you lose some,” said Smith. 

Overall U.S. results: Maureen Beck took second, Molly Ferris sixth, Kaitlin Heatherly eight, Esha Mehta sixth, Michelle Ward seventh, Jessica Sporte sixth, Brittany Rae Davis sixth, Allison White tenth, Melissa Ruiz 12th, Carlie Cook 14th, Lauren Pine 15th, Manasi Deshpande 16th, Tatiana Crenshaw sixth, Trevor Smith fourth, Brian Zarzuela eighth, Matthew Lynch ninth, Matthew Reilly ninth, Bill Casson sixth, Justen Proctor ninth, Justin Salas second, Tanner Cislaw third, Carlos Quiles seventh, Corey Ramos sixth, Kyle Long 13th, Jake Sanchez 15th, Steven Hinson 18th, Montoo Baruah 19th, Sunny Yang sixth, Benjamin Mayforth second, Jared Lenahan seventh, Ryan Juguan 11th, Leorenz Capili 12th and Keith Warrick 12th.

Podium results as well as highlight videos and a gallery can be found below. Complete can be found on IFSC.

Feature Image by Sytse van Slooten.


Arm Amputee (AU-2)
Women Men
1) Solenne Piret (FRA) 1) Matthew Phillips (GBR)
2) Maureen Beck (USA) 2) Mor Michael Sapir (ISR)
3) Melinda Vigh (HUN) 3) Kevin Bartke (GER)
Visual Impairment (B-1)
1) Koichiro Kobayashi (JPN)
2) Francisco Javier Aguilar Amoedo (ESP)
3) Daniil Lisichenko (RUS)
Visual Impairment (B-2)
Women Men
1) Abigail Robinson (GBR) 1) Sho Aita (JPN)
2) Yumi Ejiri (JPN) 2) Justin Salas (USA)
3) Edith Scheinecker (AUT) 3) Richard Slocock (GBR)
Visual Impairment (B-3)
1) Cosmin Florin Candoi (ROU)
2) Lux Losey Sail (GBR)
3) Motohiro Ejiri (JPN)
Lower-Body Amputee (AL-1)
1) Angelino Zeller (AUT)
2) Hideyuki Ouchi (JPN)
3) Tanner Cislaw (USA)
Lower-Body Amputee (AL-2)
Women Men
1) Lucie Jarrige (FRA) 1) Thierry Delarue (FRA)
2) Joanna Newton (GBR) 2) Urko Carmona Barandiaran (ESP)
3) Jaqueline Fritz (GER) 3) Albert Guardia Ferrer (ESP)
Neuro and Physiological Disabilities (RP-1)
1) Bastien Thomas (FRA)
2) Alessio Cornamusini (ITA)
3) Korbinian Franck (GER)
Neuro and Physiological Disabilities (RP-2)
Women Men
1) Hannah Baldwin (GBR) 1) Behnam Khalaji (IRI)
2) Anita Aggarwal (GBR) 2) Benjamin Mayforth (USA)
3) Leanora Volpe (GBR) 3) Manikandan Kumar (IND)

Neuro and Physiological Disabilities (RP-3)
Women Men
1) Aika Yoshida (JPN) 1) Romain Pagnoux (FRA)
2) Momoko Yoshida (JPN) 2) Mathieu Besnard (FRA)
3) Martha Evans (GBR) 3) Gregor Selak (SLO)