Mickael Mawem became the first Frenchman to win a gold medal in the boulder at the IFSC World Championships in Bern ©IFSC

France’s Mickael Mawem became the first gold medallist at this year’s International Federation of Sports Climbing (IFSC) World Championships in Bern tonight.

Victory in the boulder event at the PostFinance Arena in the Swiss capital was a belated birthday present for the climber from Nîmes, who turned 33 yesterday.

Mawem was the oldest competitor in the field and is the first Frenchman to win a gold medal in the event at the World Championships.

His victory was unexpected as he had not made much of an impression in the IFSC World Cup events this season.

But Mawem was the only athlete who reached three tops after three rounds, and it was only the final boulder that broke his perfect streak.

"It’s a crazy moment," Mawem, winner of the European title at this discipline in 2019, said.

"I’ve waited 10 years for this.

"It was my goal to be the best in the world one time in my life.

"I’ve had a lot of failures,

"I’ve come back year after year. 

"We have all these strong young guys now.

"I can’t believe it.

"It’s just crazy."

Mickael Mawem, who turned 33 yesterday, was the oldest climber in the final ©IFSC
Mickael Mawem, who turned 33 yesterday, was the oldest climber in the final ©IFSC

Mawem made several failed attempts before pausing to rest and refocus and reach the zone marker that he needed to be crowned world champion.

His successful attempt was greeted with huge cheers from the enthusiastic crowd.

"My favourite moment was the end," he said.

"Some people say just take pleasure in it, but I work a lot.

"Every day of the year. I haven’t taken a holiday for 10 years.

"I say to everyone the pleasure will come when I win, and now I’ve won.

"Yeah, the competition is cool, the setting is cool, but the end is the best.

"I just want to say thank you to all my family.

"My brother, my mother, my father."

Mawem’s 19-year-old team-mate Mejdi Schalck joined him on the podium with the silver medal with two tops and four zones, while South Korea’s Lee Do-hyun took the bronze.

"Just amazing," Schalck said standing next to Mawem.

"During all the final runs when we came back from the boulder, we are pushing each together, giving good energy, and it’s so great."

The next target for Mawem and his rivals will be trying to reach the final of the men’s boulder and lead combined.

The top three athletes in the combined event will secure quotas next year’s Olympics in Paris.

"I need to work on lead climbing. I'm not strong in lead climbing and I need to work every time on that," Mawem said.

"Now all is possible. 

"I go with my all and I try to give my best and we will see."

Tomorrow, attention will turn to the final of the women’s boulder competition where the big favourite will be Slovenia’s Olympic gold medallist Janja Garnbret.

The 24-year-old, aiming to lift a third World Championships title in the discipline following victories at Innsbruck in 2018 and Hachioji in 2019, was the only climber to top all five boulders during the qualifying rounds going through to semi-finals.