Today, the speed climbing contest of the first Paraclimbing World Championship ever to be held started in Arco, Italy. For the unknowing - like me this morning - climbing with less-than-full abilities raises some eyebrows: How will they perform? How can the results be compared? How can a safe competition be ensured?
Medical examination ensures a fair competition
To allow for the climbers to join the competition, a medical service classifies each athlete into a category, according to their abilities. One group for example is called "Amputee Leg", another "Visually Impared". In each group, differences are then equalized by the so called "ability factor" to allow for comparable competition. At first this all sounds quite complicated and a lot of the IFSC officials were busy for the last days discussing every detail of very complex ruleset. Most of the aids like glasses or protheses are not allowed, but there are exemptions like vocal guidance by a coach for the visually impaired.
Campusing the Speed Wall
However all skepticism vanished when you saw the athletes on the speed wall. With enormous courage each one of them hastened to the top, cheered by the whole other crowd. No signs of resentments whatsoever! One of the athletes, Sebastian Richter (*), member of the German team, who cannot move both his legs, had to drive to the speed climbing wall in a wheelchair. Then he campused the speed wall five times during the competition. The crowed totally freaked out each time he reached the top. You have not seen willpower if you have not seen those athletes!
Pictures of the Competition
Here are some impressions I took from the gallery at the Arco 2011 website:

All images are copyright by Giulio Malfer.
Lead Competition Tomorrow
Make sure you don't miss tomorrows (July 18th, 2011) lead competition by visiting the Arco climbing stadium or joining the live streams at .

(*): I would have linked to his website, but I could not find his place on the net.