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The Golden Hold climbing competition took place in Tel-Aviv, Israel in September. It was an outstanding start for Russian climbers who couldn't compete at World Cups because of IFSC restrictions. The big group of Russian pro climbers went to The Golden Hold and climbed with the top athletes from all over the world. We are very grateful to the organizers of the competition for that possibility. Here's the interview with one of them - Nimrod Markus. a climber, a routesetter and a man who made The Golden Hold.

Nimrod Markus (right) / photo by @thehilwave

The Golden Hold 2023 was bigger and louder than a year before. What can you, as an organizer, say about the competition? What should we wait in 2024?

This year The Golden Hold grew so much bigger than we expected. Every year we face the same challenge of making it even bigger and better than before. Each year we have no idea how we can do that, but I think that's part of the fun, we can surprise everyone, including ourselves. So, I don't know what will be in 2024.

The outdoor wall near Isaac Climbing gym was built specially for the competition. Say a few words about it.

We had a few directions for building an outdoor wall for the event. We were super happy that Walltopia decided to give their help in such a short notice. They sent us their best team, and they did such an amazing job. We wanted the event to get the exposure that it deserves, and to have a big crowd so the athletes will have an amazing atmosphere.

One year passed by since Isaac Climbing gym was open. What was happened in this period? Is the business going well?

Isaac is doing really well. We have a lot of customers, and also most of the national team regularly train there. We work hard every week to create interesting and hard challenges for all levels, so everyone will have something to work on. Our goal is to host professional athletes and also regular climbers from all over the world. Some of the athletes stayed to train in Isaac after the event, and were really impressed from the high level. I hope that in the close future we could see more and more athletes coming to Tel Aviv to train in Isaac.

Top athletes invitation was one of the most important things to make The Golden Hold really big competition. Please tell us about the process. Was it hard to bring so many climbing stars together?

We sent invitations to many athletes, not everyone could make it, but it was really heart warming to see how excited people are to visit Israel. I am so happy we had the privilege to host so many amazing athletes in our country. We made sure they are having a great time here, and I hope they will be back here soon!

Routesetting: are you satisfied, what can you say about boulder problems in the finals? Please tell us about your work with Tsukuru Hori.

First, working with Tsukuru was one of the most inspiring experience that I ever experienced. He is a genius! He can always find the best solution, and has brilliant ideas. Also, he never complains, never gets tired, and always has motivation. He was our "sensei" through these days, and I learned so much from him. We were very happy about the setting, I think we were able to bring a big variety of elements from the climbing world. We created a diverse field of climbs that were fun for the crowd to watch, but also for the climbers to climb. I am very happy with the result.

From left to rigth: Miho Nonaka,Alyona Krasovskaya, Roni Kass, Katya Kipriianova / photo by @thehilwave

This year the Golden Hold was held in the memory of Israel Kass. Please tell us about Israel and his son Roni, about what they’ve done for Israeli climbing community.

This is the second time that the event was in memory of Israel Kass. His son Roni, is a good friend of ours, and is working hard and donating money, to help develop climbing in Israel. His donation for The Golden Hold this year was unimaginable. He decided to cover the full cost of the event. If it wasn't for him, we couldn't invite so many athletes, we couldn't bring tsukuru, and we couldn't build an outdoor wall. He made everything possible for the event, and he is the main reason it could happen. We are very Gratefull to him.

It’s always not easy to find sponsors for climbing competition. Tell us about the sponsors, whose support made this event possible.

Our main sponsor was Roni, that his only request was to make the event in memory of his father. Except for him, we had a nice team of smaller sponsors, including Isaac, that agreed to host the event and be closed for a week of preparations. We had Carbon Grip, an Israeli chalk manifacturer, that helped us with some athletes, and with some prizes. And few smaller ones. This event was mainly orginized by a team of people, who are passionate about making this vision come life, without really earning something from it. We had a lot of volenteers and people with good hearts to help us. All of us just want to develop climbing in Israel, and show the world what we can achive. It was amazing to be part of this creation.

The livestream of the Golden Hold was perfect. Say a few words about that part of competition and about your work with Matt Groom.

Our livestream crew is the same crew of the Ifsc, they are very professional, and they are good friends. We explained our vision and they did it in the best way possible. Matt is a good friend, and we love having him here.

Ayala Kerem / photo by @thehilwave

Israeli climbers looked very strong this year. Please tell us about them, especially Ayala Kerem. Does she train in Isaac gym?

It was exciting to see some Israeli athletes stand out during the event. Most of them don't get the chance to experience that, because of the limited quotas. I think Isaac is a big part of the reason we can see better achievements of Israeli athletes this season. Also the federation is making more and more simulations and organized team training, that we almost never had before. Also, we now have the new national training center, which is also an amazing booster. Ayala made amazing achievements this year. She is training hard, also in Isaac and also in various different gyms. Her coach is Alex Khazanov, and he is doing an amazing work with her.

What are your personal plans as a climber and routesetter for the rest of 2023 and for 2024?

My biggest goal is to get an Olympic ticket, I am training hard and I hope I will be able to achieve it. After Paris, I might want to take a small break, and focus a little bit more in climbing outdoors, and also try to develop my routesetting internationally.

Text by Yury Birilov

Photo by @thehilwave

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