Whanganui's Rachel Māia finished fourth going up against the best paraclimbers in the world at the IFSC championships in Austria overnight.

The 35-year-old, who is the first paraclimber from New Zealand to attend a world championships, was in one of the larger divisions in Innsbruck, making the Top 4 for the final out of the 12 competitors in qualifying.

Women's RP2 division is for paraclimbers with "limited range, power, stability" up to Level 2.

Entering the final, Māia was going to need a big effort against Englishwomen Anita Aggarwal and Hannah Baldwin, the latter having tied with France's Marlene Prat at the top of the leaderboard during qualification.


The first part of the climbing wall was 15m tall and 12m wide, consisting of five panels and resembling a wave, which meant it would be hard going on to clear the vertical at around the halfway point, before levelling and going straight up near the top.

Māia, who cannot use her lower left leg below the knee, did well to reach that halfway point, often having to pull herself along with just her two arms.

Climbing through the steepest part of the wall, she could no longer hold on.

However, the commentator on the live stream was very complimentary for the Kiwi paraclimber breaking fresh ground.

"No matter who comes in the future and what happens, she will always be able to say, 'I was the first'.

"New Zealand has had its first world championship climbing finalist."

Aggarwal went next and cleared Māia's high mark, able to take a moments rest on top of that obstacle and give a wave to the British supporters.

The area above that, consisting of three consecutive panels, proved her undoing.
Knowing she was tied with Prat, Baldwin needed a good climb and delivered – clearing Aggarwal's mark and then powering towards the top – as she got within arms reach of the top mark and was delighted as she came back down.

Under pressure, the 19-year-old Prat cleared the previous two marks, but could not hang on as she approached the final part of the climb, having to settle for silver.

Final scores:
1. Baldwin 44+
2. Prat 37+
3. Aggarwal 33.5+
4. Māia 24+