Toby Roberts wins Gold in Brixen World Cup Boulder
- Monday 12th June 2023
In an amazing finale, Toby Roberts took Gold in the IFSC Boulder World Cup in Brixen over the weekend.
In his fifth WC Boulder event of the season, Toby Roberts smashed through the 90-strong field of starters to take his first-ever gold medal. It’s an incredible achievement for the young 18-year-old and only the third-ever Gold for any British male in a WC Boulder event after Martin Croxall and Andy Earl both won Golds in 2005 and 2007 in Birmingham and La Reunion respectively. Toby's Gold is the first for any British climber since Shauna Coxsey won the last of her 11 WC Boulder Golds in Navi Mumbai (India) in June 2017.
The Brixen competition had a lot to cheer about from the get-go for Team GB climbers and followers. In his best performance yet, Jack McDougall lead the British charge finishing the qualifiers in joint 5th place. Toby finished in joint 13th and Max Milne and Hamish McArthur finished in joint 16th and 19th respectively all four Brits went through to the semi-final.
Despite a super strong showing from the Japanese team – four of their squad of five made it through to the semis - and the on-form South Korean Dohyun Lee, the semi-finals belonged to Toby. Climbing superbly and displaying precision, strength, control and determination Toby finished the semis in the top place with three tops, four zones.
Speaking to IFSC Toby said, “The round felt really great. I really enjoyed climbing out there and the crowd were absolutely incredible.
I enjoyed all the blocks and I got to put in a good fight on all four of them, especially the last one trying to hit it to the breaks. Just really enjoyed it all and psyched for how I did.”
Remarkably Toby flashed M3; only one other competitor managed a top. Topping M4 would have been the icing on the cake but that escaped Toby. “I was struggling a little bit with the dynamic movement, but I was also enjoying trying to break it down and give it my best go. I was happy to get the zone in the end. It took fourteen goes, quite a lot of attempts, but for sure happy to get the zone in the end.”
Joining Toby in the final was Dohyun Lee as well as a four-strong Japanese contingent led by Sorato Anraku .
The final on Sunday night was truly a cliffhanger. Dohyun Lee came out all guns blazing and established an early lead by flashing M1. Toby was the only other climber to top that albeit taking four attempts. M2 was a tough bloc and only Sorato Anraku managed to get a top – impressively on his second attempt. At the halfway stage, Dohyun Lee and Toby were in first and second respectively and Sorato Anruka was in third place. Yoshiyki Ogata, Meichi Narasaki and Tomoa Narasaki – having no tops – all trailed behind.
When Tomoa Narasaki turned on the gas for M3 with an impressive flash, it seemed that the final was far from over; Dohyun Lee topped on his second attempt whilst Toby and Sorato Anraku both topped in three attempts.
The stakes were massive going into the fourth and final bloc. Climbing before Toby both Yoshyuki Ogata and Meichi Narasaki flashed M4; leader Dohyun Lee didn’t manage a top but took the zone. The other finalists, Sorato Anruku and Tomoa Narasaki, both failed to top or to get the zone. The final result of the whole competition hung on Toby’s performance on M4. He had to top M4 to get a medal or miss out altogether!
Toby told IFSC how he was feeling before going out on M4, “Because we see the scores in the back I knew I had to top so I was just trying to stay calm and look at the boulder as just a boulder and not think about anything else, but it’s pretty hard when you are in that environment. The crowd was incredible and part of the reason I got up it.”
Winning his first ever Gold was always going to be a momentous occasion; understandable, Toby was blown away, “Words can’t explain it, I feel absolutely incredible. The fight on that last boulder, I have no words, I had to give it absolutely everything. I left it all on the boulder and I can’t quite believe I won my first World Cup. It’s so surreal.”
Climber has been reporting Toby’s somewhat meteoric rise through the World Cup Boulder rankings since he debuted in the seniors at Hachioji in April of this year. Finishing Hachioji in 25th place, Toby was 8th in Seoul and then took his first podium with a Bronze in Salt Lake City in May. Prague was a tough event for Toby but he still finished in 15th, but by taking Gold in Brixen Toby has truly stepped up into the world’s elite competition boulderers. Just one WC Boulder event now remains for the 2023 session at Innsbruck this coming weekend.
Toby’s results from the five competitions this year have given him 2434pts thus far propelling him into fourth place overall in the 2023 results behind Tomao Narasaki (3000pts), Dohyun Lee (2885pts) and Mejdi Schalck (2690pts). With Schalck not registered to compete in the final WC Boulder event in Innsbruck Toby is now well-placed to boost his 2023 rankings further if he maintains his present form.
Climber is in touch with Toby and hope to bring you more about his incredible win in Brixen. Whilst the 2023 Boulder season draws to a close next weekend in Innsbruck the Lead season starts so the opportunity for more medals this year is far from over for Toby. Then there’s the World Championships in August too. It’s incredible to think that Brixen could just be the start of what might be a truly incredible year for Toby Roberts. Toby is already the best (all-round) male competition climber Team GB has had since Simon Nadin famously won the first ever IFSC Lead World Cup back in 1989 but it’s far from over yet!!
Watch the (condensed) finals below...