Olypmics 2020: Bassa Mawem


© Eddie Fowke

Clermont Ferrand, France
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IFSC World Cup Wins Podiums
Speed 3PB: 5.573s 11
Boulder 0 0
Lead 0 0
View IFSC profile
  • Speed World Championships Innsbruck 2018 - Silver
  • 2 x Overall Speed World Cup Gold








Bassa Mawem (FRA) Age: 36

A late-starter compared to many on the circuit, Bassa Mawem discovered climbing through school sport at the age of 15. In the early 2010s, France was emerging as an up-and-coming nation in Speed climbing and Mawem joined the French team and its national training camps in Voiron in 2011, before going on to become a five-time French Speed Champion. Mawem is the most decorated male Speed climber in the Olympic line-up, having won eleven medals and the overall Speed World Cup title twice in both 2018 and 2019.

His smooth ‘running’ style on the Speed wall – with precise foot placements and co-ordinated hand movements occurring in a fluid motion – makes Mawem a consistent top-10 competitor in Speed World Cups, where slips and falls and fits and starts are not uncommon. Mawem divides his time between Réunion Island and mainland France, training alongside his younger brother and fellow Tokyo Olympian, Mickaël. Unlike some specialists, Mawem isn’t a monomaniac when it comes to Speed: his roots in climbing were in bouldering and lead climbing outdoors, which he still partakes in from time to time as a break from the IFSC Speed route. 


Qualification route

Toulouse Combined Qualifier: 4th place

After failing to make Combined finals in the Hachioji World Championships – where his brother Mickaël earned his Olympic ticket – Mawem was odds-on to make the cut in Toulouse. With his main Speed competition – Ludovico Fossali and Rishat Khaibullin – already selected and absent in Toulouse, Mawem looked to be relatively confident of having a “1” beside his name in Speed. As expected, Mawem dominated the Speed rounds in Toulouse and finished in 4th place to join his brother in Tokyo.


Mawem is the oldest Sport Climbing athlete qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Games and is almost 20 years older than Colin Duffy (USA). He’s also the only athlete who has a child.

UKC prediction

As a Speed specialist with the fastest PB and best Speed resume of all the Olympic-qualified climbers, Mawem stands a very good chance of placing 1st in Speed, making finals and potentially finishing in 4th place, since the biggest number he could accumulate in this case would be 64 (1x8x8), which was his score from Toulouse. Like his brother Mickaël, Bassa ideally needs to work on upping his Lead game and perhaps gain more experience in Lead and Boulder World Cups this season (if they happen), since he’s only competed in six events in total across these two disciplines.

© Eddie Fowke
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