Published: 10:38, April 14, 2024
Speed climbing gold, Asian record for China's Wu at World Cup
By Xinhua
Wu Peng of China celebrates after the men's speed final at the IFSC World Cup Wujiang 2024 in Suzhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, April 13, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

SUZHOU, China - China's Wu Peng took center stage at the 2024 IFSC Climbing World Cup as he lowered the men's speed climbing Asian record and eventually claimed gold here on Saturday.

Wu eased past teammate Long Jinbao and former world record holder Veddriq Leonardo of Indonesia to reach the semifinal. The 21-year-old then clocked 4.86 seconds to beat Ludovico Fossali of Italy, 0.04 seconds faster than the previous Asian record.

On the women's side, world No 1 Aleksandra Miroslaw of Poland clinched gold with 6.24 seconds, followed by her compatriot Natalia Kalucka and Jeong Ji-min of South Korea

Facing off his final opponent Samuel Watson of the United States, who had lowered the world record twice in the qualifications on Friday, Wu ignited the home crowd at the Foho Cultural and Sports Center in Wujiang, east China's Jiangsu Province with a gold-winning 4.91 seconds. Watson slightly slipped on the bottom to settle for silver with 5.11, while Kiromal Katibin of Indonesia bested Fossali to claim bronze.

"My efforts in training paid off," Wu, the only climber of the night who broke into five seconds in every single run, revealed his secret of success. "I didn't think of the exact time, but rather gave it my all."

"Wu's performance today is a huge motivation for the team," said an emotional Zhong Qixin, head coach of China's speed climbing team. "A few athletes set their personal bests here. We will then summarize and get ready for the Paris Olympic qualifier series. The season has just started."

Despite not finishing the World Cup as expected, Watson gave his compliments to Wu, saying, "Peng was an extraordinary athlete. He deserves every bit of praise for winning this competition."

On the women's side, world No 1 Aleksandra Miroslaw of Poland clinched gold with 6.24 seconds, followed by her compatriot Natalia Kalucka and Jeong Ji-min of South Korea. China's Deng Lijuan, who has already secured a Paris 2024 berth, was eliminated in the quarterfinal.

In the lead semifinals earlier on Saturday, China's Luo Zhilu cruised into the women's final scheduled for Sunday. Zhang Yuetong, who has already qualified for Paris 2024 through the Olympic Qualifier series last November, failed to advance.