Jakob Schubert has added another medal to his impressive collection: The 32-year-old from Innsbruck won the gold medal in lead climbing at the World Championships in Bern. This makes him the only climber with four gold medals in lead climbing, the oldest climbing world champion of all time and the most successful competitive climber with ten times precious metal at world championships.
Next major event, next precious metal for Jakob Schubert. The Olympic bronze medalist has once again lived up to his status as a medal bank. In a gripping World Cup final, Schubert secured the gold medal in lead climbing in Bern. With 48+ holds, he narrowly edged out Japan's youngster Sorato Anraku (48), with Germany's Alexander Megos (40) taking bronze.
"The final was extremely cool, the atmosphere in the arena impressive. It almost felt like a home crowd. When I came off the wall and heard that I was leading, the joy was huge. I could really enjoy it," said Schubert, who started third from last in the semifinals and thus had a medal assured. Since Adam Ondra (CZE) and Toby Roberts (GBR) failed early on the tricky route in succession, it became gold.
"Then everything happened very quickly, suddenly I was the winner. I was almost caught off guard by the emotions. Anyway, it's cool to see so many young people coming up in climbing - today I was able to fend off the attack once again. Sorato is 16 years old and yet I can learn as much from him as he can from me. That's what makes climbing so special," the Tyrolean was pleased to say.
With his fourth world championship gold medal in lead climbing, Schubert is now the sole record holder; he has already won a total of ten world championship medals and is the most successful competition climber with 5x gold, 4x silver, 1x bronze. "Of course, you also think about such records. I am extremely proud to go down in the history books. You know best yourself how much hard work is behind it, so I can be very happy; at the same time I hope that it was not the last medal."
Schubert won his first World Championship medal over ten years ago, in Arco in 2011. Also for over ten years, the men's lead climbing world champion has been Jakob Schubert or Adam Ondra (CZE). Schubert won gold four times (2012, 2018, 2021, 2023), Ondra three times (2014, 2016, 2019).
A lot has changed in competition climbing during this time. "The style has turned almost 180 degrees. Ten or twelve years ago there were a lot of small holds, the strength component played an important role. Today there are many large volumes, dynamics and mobility are very important," Schubert explains. This was visible in the lead final, where a jump provided spectacular images. "You have to take it for what it is. I see it as a challenge."
"I can tick off the interim goal of the individual medal, now the full focus is on the combination," Schubert has not yet had enough and is already thinking about the Olympic Boulder&Lead competition, which begins on Wednesday (semifinals). The top three will receive spots for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Schubert: "That was the big goal of the season, it would make a lot of things easier. It's a tight race for sure, but I have the potential to make it."
After the pre-climb triumph, Schubert was not only celebrated by the thousands of fans in the PostFinance Arena, numerous other climbing aces lined up to congratulate him. The rest of the Austrian Climbing Team gave the five-time world champion a big cheer. "The best of all time," remarked Nicolai Užnik, making goat noises. Schubert has been associated with the goat before, and will probably be more often in the future. The "GOAT" ("Greatest Of All Time") - primarily in US sports - is the name given to the best athletes of all time in the respective sports, and in competitive climbing this is Schubert for many people.
Photocredit: Lena Drapella / Jan Virt / IFSC