Who is Mohammad Jafari Mahmodabadi?

Just few hours ago Mohammad Jafari from Iran became 1st in ABS16 Open US National Championship. Is not it hard to digest? Ok, I got it when world-class athlete like Juliane Wurm did it last year in ABS15, you can see her in World Cup finals all the time. But Mohammad Jafari? Who is he? There is so little about him on Internet, almost NOTHING, no youtube videos, no articles in any climbing or sport magazine.

This year LT11 commercial was telling us that they are not just broadcasting video stream, but that they “tell the story”. Maybe I have missed it, but we heard nothing about Mohammad from the commentators, no story was told about him. On a side note, I felt like the commentators only talked about very few climbers that they choose to talk about (Puccio, Woods and Alex Johnson); no offence, but I expected a little bit more from them, more info about climbers, what their background/story is and etc (not just repeating how excited they are to watch the comp).

Here is a link with Mohammad’s bio:

http://maigoc2007.sports.sina.com.cn/php/player.php?lan=en&id=39194

Here is a link with his comp history:

http://www.digitalrock.de/egroupware/ranking/sitemgr/digitalrock/pstambl.html#person=5599&cat=1

Observations:

  • At 31 y.o. he was probably the oldest male competitor.
  • His comp record does not look like the one of the rock-star. Seems, he did pretty well around 2007-2008 in Asian championships, but then I can’t find any record of him competing.
  • Iran does not have (yet) a reputations of a place where super strong climbers hang out.
  • Still Mohammad did better than the strongest US climbers.

So how did it happen? And what does it mean? At this point I have only (wild) speculations. First, maybe because US climbers do not participate that often in the International comps (except Puccio) they do not have realistic reference point of how hard other people outside US climb. Second, the way Mohammad looked and climbed tells me about his high level of general athleticism; maybe this aspect (how important is general non-climbing-specific training) for bouldering on plastic is something that American climbers have not comprehended yet completely. I do not know. But look on youtube how German climbing team trains together: you see discipline and organization there, you see how coaches intelligently shape their athletes into perfection in all aspects.

I think there is lot to think about. If I ran LT11, I would invite to booth and have interview with Mohammad not Daniel.

By the way, talking about Daniel Woods, tons of respect, really, 9th time National champ. But why not to shake hands on the podium and show some respect? (correction: Daniel and Mohammad do shake their hands before Mohammad steps on the podium, author’s apologies) And then post comp interview, why does he complain than nobody explained new format/rules to him? Come on, dude, you can’t read it yourself? Then he said that not knowing the format stopped him from doing the right things; man, you sit with your back to the wall, you do not know (and not supposed to know) how other boys climb anyway, the only strategy you have is to climb as hard as you can. What were you talking about? Oh, well, I guess Daniel was tired and really not happy that Mohammad defeated him, but still, gentleman must behave.

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31 thoughts on “Who is Mohammad Jafari Mahmodabadi?

  1. I agree that LT11 could have put more effort into learning about Mohammad. I got tired of hearing “he’s a foreign national” – You’ve already covered that! Clearly we have the advantage of hindsight, but Mohammad performed well throughout (qualifiers, semis and obviously finals). Anytime after qualifiers, it seems like they could have thought to research him.

    This is probably the first time in a long time that Daniel has fallen behind someone he doesn’t know. I think it’s natural to react negatively to a “newcomer” come in and beat you. Perhaps he’s just out of practice of loosing to newcomers, and hopefully he’ll improve his attitude.

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    1. I spoke with Mohammad after each of the rounds but the language barrier was such that learning specific details we could share was not really possible. That said, I found his approach to the comp and overall attitude about the event to be really great and in retrospect I am not surprised to see that he won.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Did you watch the live feed? He definitely shook his hand. Get your facts straight. Lying on a media site is slander and against the law.

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    1. Courtney, I believe I watched live stream, but maybe it was pre-recorded one and some parts were already removed. I apologize in this case, I really mean no offense, I asked a question based on what I saw.

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    2. “Did you watch the live feed? He definitely shook his hand. Get your facts straight. Lying on a media site is slander and against the law.”

      You are really acting like a child Courtney. Did no one ever tell you that airing your dirty laundry online is a bad idea? Daniel deserved the win, but he (and especially you) have handled the whole situation in a rather immature fashion. I don’t understand why he bothers with the ABS anyways, it’s not as if he has anything to prove.

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  3. I have a hard time believing that you weren’t trying to offend Daniel, but thank you for the apology. He’s one of the nicest and polite professionals and guys out there..he was frustrated and didn’t agree with the new format. He gave all props to Mohommads face during and after the competition. He wasnt very proud to be holding the trophie because according to USA climbing he didn’t win, Mohammad did. Yes, he won in the American field, but holding a first place trophie in the second place spot, didn’t seem genuine to him. And not to mention its heated when you’re in the moment.

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    1. I find it odd that Courtney is here speaking for Daniel. Where is Daniel to speak for himself?
      In that interview he certainly comes off to me as a sore loser (even though he’s a winner, kinda). This is a sad turn for Daniel, who was fun and inspiring to watch in climbing movies as a younger man but seems to have lost his way in the last few years. I thought that he came off as somewhat arrogant in the video for The Process as well, and he needs to learn that in this era, climbers need to be able to give a good interview and conduct themselves on and off camera with charisma and humility. After all, these people are being paid to inspire the next generation of climbers, and a whiny guy who may climb pretty hard but lacks class and maturity is not the role model that I would hold up to the strong young climbers of today.

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    2. I think many agree with me that Daniel is an iconic figure; and it is only natural that people would love to see him smiling and raising throphy, not because we dislike him but on contrary. I hope it makes sense to you as I do not want to see hurt feelings and over-heated conversations in my blog, honestly. For that I kinda regret that this post was made. I have corrected the post and scratched sentence about the handshake, but deleting the whole post sounds unfair to those commentators who already shared their opinion.

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    3. Courtney- you are not helping, on the contrary. Maybe just the last sentence is the only honest statement.
      This is a deal with competitive sports, based upon one time performance: ANYONE can win with ANYONE on any given day. It’s true and proven on so many occasions. And at some point you WILL GET DE-TRONED. That happened to DW.
      His interview was a prime example of a sore loser behavior.
      There is a quote from Joseph Conrad that basically says: some people go through life feeling good about themselves- it’s because they have never been challenged. He was finally challenged, and mentally he did not raised to the task.
      Maybe he should hire a coach? What other sport has no coaching, eh? Even Ondra has a coach now. Also he might have to choose between climbing on plastic and climbing outside on natural rock. But every time an athlete trying to explain his/her loss and blame the rules (by which everyone else competed) will simply look like a sore loser- end of story.

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  4. I have to side with Courtney on this one psyched2climb. At 3:02:46 you can very, VERY clearly see Daniel shake Mohammad’s hand. I understand that seeing Daniel looking disappointed and clearly frustrated might seem like sour grapes to some people, but unless you walk a mile in his shoes you can’t possibly understand everything that was going through his mind on the podium (or at the interview). Courtney was slightly incorrect in one sense, LIBEL is for the written word while slander is for oral defamation. However, she is quite correct in that you, psyched2climb, are responsible for what you publish and you can be charged with libel.
    In defense of Daniel, I would ask readers to try to comprehend the pressure he is, and was, under. This is his livelihood and yearly rule changes would grate on anyone’s nerves in a similar situation (especially when Daniel knew that he had less falls and more holds, which would have probably given him the win under all previous rules (depending on where “bonus” holds were located). I know that I have personally been more frustrated and shown less class than Daniel did in situations that were far less stressful than what he was going through.
    Also in defense of Daniel, I can say that I have had the pleasure of climbing and hanging out with him for several days, both in Colorado and abroad, and he has never, ever been anything but RESPECTFUL to anyone and everyone we encountered together. From superstars like Yuji Hirayama and Jain Kim to unknowns like me (Kevin Wilson) and many others, Daniel was always open, engaging, respectful, and eager to share his infectious psyche. As a matter of fact, Daniel is quite possibly THE MOST RESPECTFUL young man I have hung out with in this internet surfing, selfie-taking, “the world revolves around me,” world of entitled youth.
    My two cents.

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    1. Exactly. On another note, this new ABS scoring system is total bullshit, a system where someone who got the same amount tops in less attempts and got higher on the wall than another person loses to a person that climbed problems that less people were able to do is a shitty system. Why can’t they just use a normal system that have bonus holds and IFSC rules? It isn’t that crazy imo, and would make soooo much more sense.

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    2. Kevin, thanks for sharing your opinion. Yes, Daniel is known as a nice person, and this is why it is expected from him to be always nice and classy. I would not question my personal feelings after wathing the interview if that would not be the case.

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  5. LT11 made efforts to interview Mohammad, but the fact he simply doesn’t speak English or have a translator onsite made that difficult…

    I agree with Courtney’s and Kevin’s comments in that DW gave Mohammad respect, that DW DID shake his hand, and that holding a trophy on the second place podium wouldn’t feel right especially to DW whose very livelihood and passion stem largely from professional competition and being an all-round, good-willed badass.

    You asked:
    “So how did it happen? And what does it mean?”
    It’s pretty simple if you ask me. It means that Mohammad is one strong motherlover and that the U.S. is gonna have to turn it up a few notches if it wants to keep up with the rest of the world!

    Go Mohammad! I’ve got a good feeling this isn’t the last time we’ll see another dark horse shake things up, and it’s for the best that way!

    JX

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  6. Daniel was pissed of and he didn’t hide it. That’s too bad, but most climbers can probably comprehend how he must have felt. On the other hand, the same happened to Alex Puccio last year, and she was so fair to even hand over the trophy to Jule Wurm! And Daniel is a professional climber who needs to do his job, which can also consist of reading rules!!! What if the winner had been a well known crusher? Would he have been less frustrated?

    So there is this guy from Iran – probably Muslim, which must be hard to digest for US citizens in these times – who has never been seen before and wins in great style. His technique was way ahead of every other climber in the finals. So is this a coincidence that the relevant boulder to win this comp wasn’t even shown while Mohammed climbed it (at least the relevant part of it), but instead an american woman from behind, shaking out and standing there and trying to get hair out of her face? Then, when Mohammed climbed on the last problem, it wasn’t even mentioned from the lt11 commentators that he was the only guy who was able to climb the crack part without jamming? Instead they kept on pointing out that he was a foreigner who is very welcome, yeah right… He obviously didn’t ever climb a crack before but still managed to get past this hurdle which no one else could.

    I must say I found the boulder setting quite strange too (a slab, an almost slab, an athletic boulder, a crack, wtf???), but on the other hand why not? Although most boulder pros don’t like slabs and cracks too much and don’t do them very often, this is part of a what a well rounded boulderer needs to be able to. If the US wanted to show to the world that they can not only climb super burly athletic monster boulders it quite backfired on them. Damn…

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    1. YES. This is so on target. It’s weird to me that LT11 made no mention of a language barrier with Jafari until after they were asked about why they didn’t interview him. Then they stated his didn’t speak English, repeatedly. That’s a good reason, but (a) I’ve seen plenty of interviews with competitors of all variety who don’t speak the same language as the interviewer (even Ashima early on in her career when her both her English and adult-speak weren’t great) that are basically just that person smiling and doing what they can and (b) it was more than just the lack of interview — there was a general xenophobic approach to Jafari the whole time. As the above commenter already mentioned, they didn’t focus on his climbing; they just repeatedly mentioned that he was Iranian (or as they kept mispronouncing it “from I-ran”) and that was it. This was hard to swallow in a sport that, in the US at least, has a real problem with encouraging diversity of all kinds, not only including skin color but also including climbing styles, training regimens, body types, etc.
      I’m not saying that LT11 should have run out and gotten a Farsi translator, but there were other ways to handle an unknown quantity killing it at this comp that would have shown him the respect he was due.

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      1. I don’t agree. Yes they mentioned he was a foreign national too many times but they did compliment his climbing skills numerous times too

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      2. Firstly: What should have happened: welcomed Mohammed to the booth, say “unfortunately, we have a language barrier but we still wanted to say ‘hello and congratulations,” shake his hand, and send him off on his merry way. Give the guy a chance to show his face to the world!

        Secondly, I don’t even buy this language barrier issue. Courtney posted on her FaceBook that Mohammed went up to Daniel after the comp to concede that Daniel was the better climber. If he could do that, that’s enough English skills for me!!!

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  7. I don´t know Daniel in Person, but I can understand his reaction and how he must have felt.
    Think about it, we are all pissed by failing no matter if its on a specific climb or a competition.
    And things get even worse if your failure mostly depands on a factor which you can´t controll, for example a wet hold or in this case a new scoring system.
    I got pissed as well in some competitions because they used really weard scoring systems.
    And I don´t think he has to hide it and act as everything is normal.
    If he would hide his anger and frustration he wouldn´t he authentic anny more and I wanna see the real Daniel this anger andd frustration is real and it makes him human.
    Everybody gets pissed from time to time and you shouldn´t hide it, let it out and move on.
    Also i don´t think Daniel was rude to Mohammad, Daniel just seemed to be disapointed and not in the best mood but thats not rude thats just human.
    You compete to win, not to get last, fith, third or second.
    And you train for 2 reasons:

    to win competitions

    and

    to climb as hard as possible outside

    Also I think it´s normal that Daniel is not responding since he didn´t do anything wrong.

    Don´t judge him for beeing human, every human gets pissed.

    I actually liked it when he got pissed because it remindet me of myself.

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  8. Not only wrong about the shaking hands. When he talks about the format he says he would like to know what the rules are beforehand so that he could prepare (doesn’t complain about not actually knowing them)

    Didn’t see Daniel doing anything bad other than maybe being a little frustrated or whatever

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  9. Great article! Consider these controversial responses a sign to keep writing and keep asking questions. Your inquiry appears to be coming from a good place and you are handling your errors expertly.

    I am also curious as to how a relatively unknown climber can succeed on such a strong stage. Jafari appears to be a well rounded climber with strong pacing. He climbed what he could in an efficient manner; he seemed very composed. Compared to the other climbers on the male podium he looked fresh after all that climbing where Daniel appears to be very dehydrated O’Rourke looks absolutely spent.

    It seems that even if Daniel had the same high points but had a handful less attempts he would have secured a win. (Someone should probably do the math on that.)

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    1. I think that the answer is that the level of competition in the US competition climbing circuit is just way behind the level of World Cup events. Few of the top American climbers focus on indoor competition, probably in part because the spectators don’t really care that much about it in the US and hence the sponsors are not adequately rewarding success in competitions (and as a consequence, there is less youth development etc). This is probably known among international competitors, and Mohammad probably saw Jule win the women’s competition and thought ‘hey, here’s an opportunity to get a good result and get noticed’. He is a very strong and versatile climber, no doubt, and really fun to watch, when he was actually shown on camera. I would like to see him compete against the best in the WC circuit.

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  10. Although I don’t have any real information about Mohammad I climb at the gym he seems to frequent in Golden, CO and he seems to have a good relationship with the setters there and is usually there testing out problems and (I believe) helping set grades. I was super psyched to see him in the comp and felt like he did a really great job! I can’t wait to see him at the gym to tell him congrats.

    I definitely understand Daniel Woods frustration at the system too, seems a bit strange.

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  11. To the defense of Lt11 they did try to interview him but there was no translator there. He knew exactly no English but he was a good sport about it and tried his hardest to understand. We did last minute get someone on the phone that was going to try to help translate but by that time it was awards time. I know this because I was trying to help get it set up. Mohammed was so sweet and totally shocked that he won. He to was quite confused how it happened. Up to the moment they announced everyone thought daniel won but under the new scoring system it came out as a different outcome. Daniel response could Have much from shock but he did offer congratulation to Mohammad . If it was the same situation that happen to my daughter last year most would have understand the final result but because of the lack of knowledge of the new scoring system this year made the out come much different. The men’s winner was much harder to understand why. Last year we could understand the final ranking. This also happened to Delaney Miller too at SCS rope finals one year but we all understood the scoring and it Made sense. Hope this helps a little.
    Kim

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  12. Hi! I strongly believe that this system sucks. First of all because it favors competitors with specialized strengths and rare, extreme body types (height, reach etc.). For example in this system a 195 cm tall guy among an average 175 cm tall field, is able to reach a hold where others have to dyno and has a very unfair advantage. If he tops out 1 problem due to his height where others fail he doesn’t have to climb so well on the other problems and still has a good chance to win the comp. i’m convinced that every score system should try to eliminate these kind of effects and should favor the best all around climber who can give a more or less balanced performance in every style (crimps, slabs, dyno etc.).
    Secondly I think it is actually quite strange what happened with Woods on this comp. Regularly he’s a bit of a prototype of the climber with very specialized style of climbing. Of course he is one of the best climbers of all time and I don’t want to be offensive but I think that he his performance on shouldery boulders with small holds is a lot better than his his level on slabs. He is truly superior in 1 area compared to the others so I think that a system like this can actually be beneficial for him most of the time.
    Thirdly I don’t found Woods behavior negative just honest. He shaked hands with Jafari but of course his face was not happy about his result. He criticized the system not Jafari, and I can totally understand him. Being a competitor myself I know how annoying and boring can be when the rules are changed every time you step on the wall and after a while you just feel tired to follow up with each of the changes. This was totally the case with the ABS in the recent years and I believe that it is ridiculous that they can’t stick with one system ( personally I think that the 2014 score system was the best so far).
    Finally I strongly believe that the only the Lt11 crew and the commentators were against the spirit of the sport. Why the hell couldn’t they interview Jafari??? Despite all that I mentioned above he was the fuckin winner of the comp!!!! I can only hope that this was not a discrimination towards the Irani, last year when July Wurm won I think the made an interview with her but correct me if I was wrong 

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