French Speed climbing legend Bassa Mawem was a relative latecomer to climbing, discovering the sport through school in his mid-teens. Training with his younger brother, fellow Mad Rock athlete Mickael Mawem, Bassa quicky rose to prominence, actually making his World Cup debut in the Bouldering World Cup in Fiera di Primiero, Italy in 2008.
Soon however Bassa’s attentions were turned to Speed, the discipline where he found his calling. A 5 x French Speed champion and 2 x IFSC Speed World Cup overall champion, Bassa had found his place in the sport. Then, when the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics arose, Bassa broadened his training to encompass Lead and Boulder as well as Speed. A choice that paid off when he secured his qualification through the Olympic qualifying event in Toulouse, joining his brother Mickael in completing the French quota.
Within his chosen discipline of Speed Bassa is known for his smooth consistent style, loping up the 15-metre route with controlled efficiency. His economic style will be all important in the Olympics as in timed qualifying it takes a different mentality to knock out racing, and Bassa’s consistency will pay dividends.
At 35, Bassa is the oldest climber qualified for the Olympics and one of only a couple who has a child. Yet Bassa has managed to balance fatherhood with work and training, finding his greatest success in competition as he has matured. Indeed even at the age of 35 he is looking forward to the Olympic games in Paris as the time to sign out, not the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo.
Words and images by The Circuit Climbing Media