Mawem takes Men’s Boulder Gold at World Championships
- Saturday 5th August 2023
In a remarkable final, 33-year-old Frenchman Mickael Mawem outshines all the young guns to take the Men’s Boulder Gold at the 2023 World Championships in Bern.
Having competed on the international comp scene since 2014, Mickael Mawem has been very close to podiums on a number of occasions; his fourth-place finish in Boulder at the Paris 2016 World Championships must have felt agonisingly close. Although arguably a boulder specialist, Mawem qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021; he finished that event in fifth overall. However, his win in Bern yesterday is, without a doubt, his finest-ever achievement.
Mawem’s victory is not only a testimony of tenacity but also a demonstration that older athletes can and do compete at the highest level. The young guns like Sorato Anraku, Mejdi Schalck, Dohyun Lee and GB’s own Toby Roberts, had all had some amazing results this year. So too had the older and more experienced climbers such as Adam Ondra, Jakob Schubert and Alex Megos. It’s perhaps a cliché to say but in a totally stacked field such as the Men’s competition was, the final really was anyone’s to take. It’s probably fair to say that Mawem wasn’t expected to be a front-runner for the title but no one expected to see the use of no-tex (no texture) see-through holds either; that as they say, is competition climbing for you!
Although the qualification round on August 1st saw most of the big names go through a few that might have been expected to qualify didn’t, Olympic Champion Albert Gines Lopex (30th), Sean Bailey (33rd) and Colin Duffy (45th) amongst them. The 16-year-old Japanese star Sorato Anraku, lead the field which, being partisan for a moment, also included Jack MacDougall (=9th) and Toby Roberts (=15th). Also through, was the 2021 defending champion Kokoro Fujii as well as the aforementioned Big Three of Schubert (=7th), Megos (=17th) and Ondra (=19th).
Continuing his dream start, Sorato Anraku remained in the top spot on the leaderboard after yesterday’s morning semi-final; he alone had four tops. Mickael Mawen, Kokoro Fujii, Mejdi Schalck and Dohyun Lee all had three tops whilst the 6th spot for the finals went to Nicolai Uznik with two tops. The list of the great climbers not making it through was however very long and distinguished including Ondra (8th), Schubert (12th) and Megos (17th). Sadly, our two GB climbers didn’t make it either; Jack MacDougall had to re-climb one of his boulders when an appeal against him was successfully upheld but his 16th place finish was a storming result in such a field for the national bouldering champion. Sadly, Toby Roberts had a nightmare round finishing in 19th, “one of my worst performances so far of the season” he wrote afterwards on his social media. Clearly, he’d expected to do better but the World Championships are a high-pressure environment like few others; he’ll take something from that though for sure – not least into the lead semi-final on Sunday! Keeping that result in context, 19th in the world is still a flipping good result, however!
Yesterday’s final had all the components for a remarkable round which in the end it was. Sorato Anraku, along with Mejdi Schalck and Mickael Mawem all flashed the opening bloc. Sorato and Dohyun both did #M2 on their second attempt so at the halfway point Sorato was in the lead with Mickael in second place. M3 changed all that; Sorato failed to get the zone yet both Mickael and Mejdi topped on their fourth attempts. With M4 remaining it was all to play for – as they say – but the big question was how would the competitors handle the paddle dyno set using the see-through, no texture holds?! The extreme difficulty is the answer to that; Nicolai Uznik was the only climber to solve that conundrum when he got the top on his second attempt. Front runners Mickael and Mejdi were only able to collect the zone on M4 but even before his time had run out it was obvious that Mickael had taken the win; he, the lighting unit, the crowd and the commentators all went crazy as the realisation sunk in that the 33-year old Mickael had achieved his career-best ever result to win the 2023 Men’s Boulder World Championship. Mawem’s teammate Mejdi Schalck finished in second place whilst the third-place finisher was Dohyun Lee from South Korea.
Commenting immediately after the competition, Mawem said "It‘s a crazy moment. I’ve waited ten years for this. It was my goal to be the best in the world one time in my life. I’ve had a lot of failures, I’ve come back year after year. We have all these strong young guys now. I can’t believe it. It’s just crazy."
Watch a condensed video of the Men’s Boulder even over the three rounds below…