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Japan dominates Stairclimbing World Championships on home ground

The 2023 Stairclimbing World Champions crowned at Japan’s Harukas Skyrun. ©MEETING

The second edition of the ISF Stairclimbing World Championships saw Japan take two gold medals for the men’s and women’s winners at the Harukas Skyrun in Osaka, November 19, 2023. Italy and Finland took the silver and new entry Mongolia, pocketed two bronze medals.

The host venue was one of Japan’s tallest buildings, the Abeno Haurkas, a three-hundred metre-high skyscraper where 1,047 athletes pushed their quads up the 1,610 steps to the finish line at the observatory on the 59th floor.

Yuri Yoshizumi, 2022 World Champion, was thrilled with her second title and third win here, closing in 10’20” – six seconds off the standing record she set in 2017. “I’m very happy to be world champion again this year! Osaka is my hometown. I was born and grew up here, so I really wanted to win,” she commented. “I was glad that many athletes from around the world came to Japan to participate. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Stairclimbing World Champs!”

Japan’s Ryoji Watanabe crossing the finish line, after a gruelling 1,610 steps. ©MEETING

Fellow countryman Ryoji Watanabe, one of the world’s top stair climbers, after a silver medal at the 2022 World Championships, clinched the gold in 8’53”, 24 seconds off the standing record. “I finally realised my dream! I’m a really happy person! I would like to thank my many supporters, rivals and friends who competed together..The stairs are my life!”

Another world-class élite athlete, Fabio Ruga from Italy, 2022 bronze medallist, closed an excellent second to take the silver. Closing the podium, was first-timer Luvsansharav Natsagdorj from Mongolia. The 23-year-old was a double gold medallist at the recent Youth Skyrunning World Championships in Italy –  his first attempt on the international stage, and now, the talented athlete has shown that vertical running, both indoors and out, is just the beginning of a promising future.

Second lady, Laura Manninen from Finland, nailed the silver. At 50-years-old and after a recent injury, she proved her strength was back and re-confirmed her second position here in 2019. The bronze medal went to another talent from Mongolia, Nomin-Erdene Bayartogtokh, also at her first attempt in a stairclimbing competition – but with the world’s best.

Yuri Yoshizumi, from Japan, on her way to her second Stairclimbing World Champion title. ©MEETING

Japan, Finland, Italy and Mongolia head the medal count. Japan is one of the strongest and most active members of the International Skyrunning Federation, with athletes competing and excelling in the various world championships under the management of Dai Matsumoto who also manages an array of numerous skyrunning events across the country.

The 2023 ISF Stairclimbing World Championships were presented by Shinichiro Okuno, President of Meeting Inc, Stairclimbing Japan Circuit, organisers of the Haruka Skyrun for the fifth time.

Marino Giacometti, ISF President, concluded, “Japan has certainly demonstrated their strength, both in holding the World Championships and taking the gold medals.
“For the first time, a handful of new ISF member countries participated with athletes new to stairclimbing: Bulgaria, Mongolia, Montenegro, Portugal and Serbia – all finishing in the top ten.  The future looks bright for new countries and a new generation of athletes aiming for the sky”.

The men’s race start at the second edition of the Stairclimbing World Championships. ©MEETING

Men’s podium
Gold  – Ryoji Watanabe (JPN) –  8’53”61
Silver –  Fabio Ruga (ITA) – 9’31”83
Bronze  – Luvsansharav Natsagdorj (MNG)– 9’47”75

Women’s podium
Gold  –  Yuri Yoshizumi (JPN) – 10’20”06
Silver  –  Laura Manninen (FIN) – 11’02”17
Bronze  – Nomin-Erdene Bayartogtokh (MNG) – 11’19”27

Medal count
Race results
Vertical World Circuit