Japan dominate Wujiang season-ender
- Monday 25th September 2023
The Japanese squad dominated the World Cup Lead event in Wujiang over the weekend with on-form Ai Mori and Sorato Anraku taking the golds.
After a four-year break, the Wujiang event over the weekend was the sixth and final IFSC Lead event of the season; remarkably, in a near clean sweep, the Japanese climbers took five of the six medals available. Throughout the Wujiang event, Ai Mori and Sorato Anraku dominated all the rounds finishing top after qualification, the semi-finals and the finals.
It’s been a phenomenal year for the 16-year-old Soratu Anraku; Wujiang was his third IFSC Gold Lead World Cup medal having won all three of the last WC Lead events at Briancon, Koper and then Wujiang. He didn’t top the final route but when he fell at 39+ he was nearly ten moves higher than his nearest rival, teammate Shion Omata. Omata – like Anraku – is also in his first senior year; his efforts earned him silver, his first IFSC WC Lead medal on only his sixth outing. Completing the men’s podium was a third Japanese climber, Taisei Homma; his bronze was his sixth podium finish.
Sorato Anraku said after the event: “I’m just happy to win another medal here in Wujiang. I’m frustrated not to top the route though. I have the Asian Games next week so I will try there. I love climbing and I don’t want to stop. I’m going to carry on forever.”
Ai Mori’s Gold at Wujiang, like Anraku’s, was her third of the season. Mori’s winning margin wasn’t quite as much as Anraku’s but falling at 36+ was a substantial advantage over second-placed Jessica Pilz who fell at 31+. Pilz was in fact, the only non-Japanese climber on the podium at Wujiang. The final podium position went to another Japanese climber, Natsuki Tanii.
After the event, Ai Mori said: “Before climbing I was very nervous, but now I’ve won I’m very happy. I feel a lot of pressure, mostly that I put on myself, I just don’t feel confident. But if I don’t have confidence in myself I can’t win, so I have to tell myself a lot I can do it.”
2023 IFSC Lead World Cup Overall Results
With Wujiang the final Lead event of the year it also finalised the 2023 Overall rankings which were topped by Austria’s Jessica Pilz (3235 points) with two silver medals and a bronze helping towards her winning score. In second place – only having entered three events – was Olympic champion Janja Garnbret (3000 points) whilst her Slovenian teammate, Vita Lukan, finished third (2725 points) with a maiden gold in Briançon her best result of the year.
Anraku Sorato had already the overall title before Wujiang (4300 points) becoming the first men’s athlete to win both Boulder and Lead series titles, all in his first season in the senior competition. Alex Megos finished second (2650 points) with a silver and bronze during the year whilst third place went to Taisei Homma (2455 points).
Watch highlights from the final round at Wujiang below…