A total of 531 climbers from 57 nations and five continents will be involved in the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Championships starting tomorrow in the Austrian city of Innsbruck.
Of those athletes, 173 are registered to compete in all three climbing disciplines - bouldering, lead and speed - at this biennial event that will be held at Kletterzentrum Innsbruck.
For the first time at the World Championships, the six top-scoring men and women will qualify for the combined finals on the last day.
Much will be expected of Slovenia’s prodigiously talented 19-year-old, Janja Garnbret, last year's combined champion in the IFSC World Cup series who won gold at the most recent bouldering and lead events in Munich and Arco.
Garnbret will defend her world lead title against a field that includes the only woman to have beaten her in that discipline this year, Austria’s Jessica Pilz, along with former world champion Jain Kim of South Korea and 2016 silver medallist Anak Verhoeven of Belgium.
Czech Republic’s Adam Ondra will seek to become the first athlete in recent IFSC history to win three consecutive lead world titles.
He nevertheless faces a strong field including home climber Jakob Schubert, a former world lead champion who is a current front-runner in this season’s World Cup standings, Italy’s Stefano Ghisolfi and Alexander Megos of Germany.
Garnbret and her compatriot Jernej Kruder won at the last World Cup bouldering event of the season in Munich last month, with the latter sealing his overall World Cup victory in holding off the challenge of Japan’s Tomoa Narasaki, the reigning world champion.
Japan dominated the women’s bouldering World Cup events this season, with Miho Nonako taking gold ahead of Akiyo Noguchi thanks to her outstanding consistency.
They are set to mount a strong challenge to defending champion Petra Klingler of Switzerland.
In the speed climbing discipline, expect a highly competitive battle on the 15-metres wall between long-time rivals Anouck Jaubert of France and Iulia Kaplina of Russia, who won the most recent World Cup event in Arco.
Jaubert, last year’s World Cup champion and current World Cup leader, matched Kaplina’s speed world record in April.
Danyil Boldyrev of Ukraine won in Arco, but will find tough opposition in the form of speed climbing world record holder Reza Alipourshenazandifar of Iran.
The men’s and women’s speed titles will be defended by Marcin Dzienski of Poland and Anna Tsyganova of Russia.
The IFSC World Championships this year will feature 139 Paraclimbing athletes across 12 categories, with competition starting on Monday (September 10).
Leg amputee Lucie Jarrige, a reigning Paraclimbing world champion at AL2, earned first place in front of her home crowd in the most recent Paraclimbing Cup in Briancon, France.
Her compatriot, Thierry Delarue, who missed the last IFSC World Championships in 2016, could also make a big impact in the men’s leg amputee category having set a huge winning total in Briancon.
Britain’s Matthew Phillips, gold medallist in Briancon in the forearm amputee category, AU2, will also be a strong contender, as will his compatriot Abigail Robinson, competing in the B2 visually-impaired category.