5 of the 6 possible medals went to Japan. With the 18-year-old Nonoha Kume and the 19-year-old Hidemasa Nishida, gold went to Asia after a strong performance in both cases. Only the US American Melina Costanza had a say in the medals, but was narrowly beaten and took silver. Mattea Pötzi (University of Innsbruck) took 7th place after a strong semi-final.
Final field rolled up from the back
The victory in a difficult lead final route in the women's category was secured by the current Youth World Champion Nonoha Kume (31+) from Japan, who was be the first athlete to climb the final route, and thus took the gold medal at the FISU World University Championship Sport Climbing. The US-American Melina Costanza broke through the Japanese phalanx and secured 2nd place (30) after a strong fight. Third place went to Ryu Nakagawa (JPN), who won the semifinals and just managed to secure the bronze medal with her last efforts in the round of the best 8 athletes.
"I was the first athlete to enter the final and after my performance I would not have believed that it would be enough for a medal - certainly not for gold. I'm very happy, even though I didn't feel so easy in the final route. It had some pitfalls and I am glad that I came through so well. I'm honestly a bit lost for words," beamed Kume immediately after the competition. Second-placed Costanza also gave an extremely positive feedback: "It was incredible fun and a real challenge at the end. I am very happy that I could get the silver medal in this strong field of participants. It was a great day for me."
From an Austrian point of view, the finals looked very positive at first. Mattea Pötzi (University of Innsbruck) started confidently into the final route and worked her way up grip by grip. However, this ease was to be her downfall at the first key section, where several athletes dropped out. "It was really cool today. I knew a lot of people in the audience - the atmosphere was really good. My goal was to make it to the final, so the relief was really big then. After the great performance in the semi-final, I was quite disappointed after the final. Maybe it went too well for me at the beginning, so I was surprised that one move was harder than I thought it would be. On the one hand I am happy about a strong competition, on the other hand it is annoying because I could have done better. For the World Cup next week, these 4 routes on the competition wall have brought important experience values", says Pötzi.
While Pötzi was happy about her participation in the final and her 7th place, Julia Fiser (University of Innsbruck) was visibly disappointed after finishing 12th and missing the final (26+). The 25-year-old missed most of the preparation as well as the first season's competitions due to an elbow injury. She is fighting her way back to her old form in small steps. The red-white-red duo Celina Schoibl (University of Innsbruck) and Hanna Schubert (University of Innsbruck) finished the competition with the 16th (23+) and 17th (21+) places.
Strong performance without happy ending
While a Japanese quintet dominated the semi-finals in the men's lead event and ultimately decided the podium places among themselves, Austria's lead climbing hope, Georg Parma (University of Graz), narrowly missed the jump into the final of the best 8 athletes with 9th place in the semi-finals. Teammate Roman Neuwirth (Graz University of Technology) showed his best side, exceeded all expectations and finished the lead climbing event of the FISU World University Championship Sport Climbing in a strong 12th place.
"I am already very disappointed that I did not make it to the final - that was my declared goal. While I was in a good flow in the qualification and got into the fight well, I didn't manage that today. We already saw during the inspection that the place will be difficult at 27+, but then I wasn't determined enough and maybe had a bit too much respect. It's a shame because I was really close to the final with 9th place. Nevertheless, the competition was very important for me in view of the upcoming World Cup," Parma summed up after the narrow elimination in the lead semifinal.
While Parma was sorry that he missed out on advancing to the final, teammate Roman Neuwirth was very satisfied with his performance: "It went really well for me, the route played really well into my hands today. There were some difficult single moves and the route was not really homogeneous. Unfortunately, like many other athletes, I dropped out at a point in the upper section. You're already a bit ticked off from a physical point of view, then the strong move came, you had to invest a lot and hit the ledge correctly - that was the challenge. I've been out of the competition game for a year now, focusing on university. I exceeded my own expectations and I am very satisfied," summed up Neuwirth, who used Wednesday afternoon for regeneration in order to be fit again for the boulder qualification on Thursday.
The victory went to Hidemasa Nishida (43+), who won ahead of his compatriot Taisei Homma (41). Sohta Amagasa (36+) completed the podium in third place. "We pushed ourselves as a team today and put in a really good performance. I knew I was in good shape, but I never imagined it would be enough for the win. I'm just incredibly happy. A victory that gives me a lot of self-confidence," said the FISU World University Championship Sport Climbing gold medalist, not only satisfied but also very proud.