In the first Speed World Cup of the year, and for that matter since 2019, Kiromal Katibin, of Indonesia, smoked the speed world record. Previously sitting at 5.48, by Reza Alipour, Katibin posted 5.25 in his first qualification run. His teammate Veddriq Leonardo ran 5.37.
Followinging qualifiers, Gym Climber, along with John Burgman and Albert Ok, caught up with Katiban, Leonard and Hendra Basir, their coach and translator.
John Burgman: How does it feel to have broken the world record?
Basir: Amazing. This was the first competition for him, and we knew he could break the world record.
JB: First competition meaning first World Cup competition?
Basir: Yes. Before he just competed in Youth World Championships
JB: In the practice time before this event, he was posting very fast world-record breaking times. So going into this event, did you know you could do it? Did you expect to do it?
Delaney Miller: Were you nervous?
Basir: A little bit
JB: Tell me about your preparation. This past year leading up to this, what kind of training have you been doing? Especially during the pandemic and all that?
Basir: So we’re training from July 2020. Other people can’t enter our training facility because of Covid limitations. So we hoped we could compete in the next year, and break the world record.
JB: So can you tell me a little bit about your partnership training relationship? Do you train together frequently? Or do you live far apart?
Basir: Yeah. There are 20 Indonesian athletes including them.
DM: What makes you guys so fast?
Basir: We are training every day, in the morning and afternoon. So we have a goal. Because we are not competing in Tokyo, we are planning to go to Paris. So that’s it for us. Every day we go to sleep at 9 or 10 and we wake up at 6 and we’re training until 8. And in the afternoon we’re training from 2 until 9 sometimes to break the record. This is mission accomplished for us.
JB: What is your expectation or prediction for the finals tonight?
Basir: We want to improve our performance. In training, we can make something like 5.15 or as you saw 5.05 (Katibin ran that time in a practice run on Thursday).
JB: So better than the world record you just set?
JB: Where do you think there’s room for improvement for this evening?
Basir: The start of the route
DM: So you’ve always wanted to break the world record. When did you know that it was a possibility?
Basir: We have prediction-performance training. Sometimes once a week or every two weeks, we have prediction performance. So every day we include the training and sports science for all the teams. That’s why we can predict.
JB: Can you tell me about your 5.3 run Leonardo?
Leonardo: Actually, that was my personal best in a competition. And it was my first competition since the pandemic last year. I am so happy.
JB: What is your plan for now until the finals?
Basir: We will just go back to the hotel and eat and sleep. … The momentum is very very good for tonight.
JB: What did you eat before your world record times?
Basir: Indonesian always have rice. Rice with chicken or other things.
JB: Will climbing become more popular in Indonesia because of this?
Basir: This is really the fire in Indonesia. It’s three in the morning in Indonesia. So they are still asleep. And when they wake up, it will be fire.
JB: Awesome. That’s really great. Wow, I think you’ll inspire a lot of young climbers.
Basir: And he’s still young. Kiromal is 20-years-old and Veddriq 24.
DM: When did each of you start climbing?
Leonardo: Eight years ago. I was a senior in high school.
Katibin: 11 years ago.
JB: Why did you decide that you wanted to focus on speed climbing?
Basir: If he broke the world record, he would make Indonesian people very proud.
JB: That’s why he focused on speed climbing? The world record was kind of the goal from the very beginning?
Basir: Yes. He was already climbing faster than the world record. Under 5.48. Everyday, sometimes he makes 5.30 to 5.35. 5.40 some days. So this way, I knew he’d break the record.
JB: When was the first time that you broke the world record in practice?
Basir: In January it was 5.26. In November he ran 5.41.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Photo by Daniel Gajda