Korea takes seven medals at Asian climbing championship
Eighteen-year-old Seo Chae-hyun led the Korean contingent at the 2022 IFSC Climbing Asian Championship with two gold and a bronze medal, single-handedly accounting for nearly half of Korea’s seven podium finishes.
Seo took gold in the women’s lead and boulder and lead, adding a bronze in the women’s boulder. Lee Seung-beom got Korea’s only other gold in the men’s speed, while Oh Ga-young won Korea’s sole silver and Kim Ja-in and Lee Do-hyun added a bronze each.
Sport climbing has three disciplines: Speed, bouldering and lead.
In speed, athletes compete to climb an identical 15-meter (50-foot) wall set at an angle of 95 degrees faster than their opponents.
In bouldering, athletes climb different routes without ropes within 4 minutes. The routes vary in difficulty and athletes do not get to see them in advance.
In lead, athletes attempt to climb as high as they can on a 15-meter wall within 6 minutes.
The 2022 IFSC Climbing Asian Championship ran from Oct. 10 to Oct. 16 at Jamwon Hangang river park in Seocho, southern Seoul.
Seo, the 2021 lead world champion, specializes in lead and also competes in bouldering events, but does not typically do speed. That held her back at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where athletes were required to do all three disciplines for one medal.
But on the professional climbing circuit, the three events are divided and Seo has quickly risen to the top of the pack in lead, where she took first place at the World Cup at just 16 years old in 2019.
She also entered the 2022 Asian Championship as the reigning champion in both lead and bouldering, having taken gold in both events at the 2019 tournament.
Seo led a Korean podium sweep in lead, with Oh and Kim taking silver and bronze respectively in the event. Seo reached 45 holds on the wall, with Oh and Kim both ending at plus 35.
Kim’s return to the podium is especially exciting for Korean climbing fans. The 34-year-old is Korea’s most successful climber ever, with 30 World Cup gold medals to her name, two world championships and 14 Asian Championship titles.
Seo failed to defend her title in boulder, falling behind Futaba Ito of Japan and Luo Zhilu of China to take bronze. Korea’s Sa Sol also reached the boulder final, finishing in sixth place.
Seo returned to the top in boulder and lead, an event that combines both disciplines, narrowly beating out Tanii Natsuki of Japan to take the gold. Oh was the only other Korean to reach the final, finishing in eighth place.
Korea failed to medal in women’s speed, with Jang Ji-min finishing sixth and Cha You-jin seventh.
In the men’s events, Lee Seung-beom took the sole gold in the men’s speed, beating Leonardo Veddriq of Indonesia by 13 seconds. The win marked Lee’s first gold medal at a major international tournament.
Korea failed to medal in the men’s lead, with the top five medals all going to Japanese climbers. Chon Jong-won was the only Korean to make it into the final, finishing in sixth place.
Lee Do-hyun took Korea’s final medal of the tournament in the men’s boulder and lead, finishing in third place after Tomoa Narasaki and Fujii Kokoro, both of Japan.
Climbers will be back in action this weekend for the final World Cup event of the season in Morioka, Japan, where only the men’s and women’s boulder and lead event will be contested.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]