Artwork by Constant Climbing as posted in Rock & Ice.

Olympic Sport Climbing

Article by Mike Paukner
Forward and Editing by Pete Sancianco
Edited on July 9, 2021 to account for post-pandemic updates


When Mike Paukner originally wrote this article, the world was a different place. To think that a global pandemic would, among other things, postpone our sport’s debut on the Olympic stage was the last thing on anyone’s mind at the beginning of 2020.

A year delayed, we are finally able to witness some of the best climbers in the world display the competitive side of our sport to many who never even knew there was a competitive side to our sport. Catch highlights with general coverage of the Olympics on NBC from noon to 5PM daily (TUE, AUG 3 – FRI, AUG 6) or check out online schedules at and cheer on your favorite climbers as they compete to receive the honor of being the first to win Olympic medals in the sport we love so much.

Schedule of Events

Original Article

Article by Mike Paukner
Dates Edited by Pete Sancianco

As I’m sure many of you have heard, rock climbing will be making its Olympic debut in the Tokyo 2020 Games this summer with four (4) incredible days of climbing starting on [Tuesday, August 3 until Friday, August 6]! This is a major step forward for our sport, and will introduce a whole new audience to the wonderful world of rock climbing. As we approach the start of the 2020 Games, Rock Spot Climbing will be your one-stop-shop to learn all about the format, the athletes, and the stories we will see in Tokyo!

Olympic Format

Competitive climbing focuses on three distinct disciplines – bouldering, lead, and speed. Each showcase a different style of movement, and therefore lend themselves to different athletes. The 2020 Olympics will have competitors compete in all three disciplines, with a combined score being used to determine final placements. This means that competitors will need to be extremely well-rounded climbers in order to excel.


The bouldering format will test competitors with diverse problems meant to showcase a variety of climbing styles. Competitors will take as many attempts as they can on each problem within a given time limit. Judges score them based on how far they make it in each problem, whether they completed the problem or not, and how many attempts it took them. 


The lead format will task competitors with one attempt at a long, difficult lead route, with scoring based on highest progress and/or completion of the route. A time limit is implemented in order to break ties, as well as to provide agency for the competitor to plan their rest spots strategically. 


Speed climbing, pits two competitors in a head-to-head race on the standardized speed route. Since the route never changes, competitors spend their training sessions perfecting the route. This makes for extremely impressive displays of control and speed.

America’s First Olympic Climbing Team

The United States is allowed two (2) male and two (2) female competitors for a total of four (4) Olympic spots. Three (3) of these coveted spots were claimed from the two (2) International Olympic Qualifying events in Hachioji and Toulouse with the final spot claimed at the Pan-American Championship.

Here are your current competitors representing the Unites States:

Brooke Raboutou

Brooke Raboutou was the first American to secure her Olympic Spot with her finish in the Climbing World Championships. She is also the youngest person to climb 5.14b.

Nathaniel Coleman

Nathaniel Coleman secured his Olympic spot with his finish in the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) Combined Qualifier in 2019. Coleman has been a mainstay in competitive climbing since 2012.

Kyra Condie

Kyra Condie secured her Olympic spot with her finish in the IFSC Combined Qualifier in 2019. She credits her climbing ability to the strength she gained from training hard in smaller gyms.

Colin Duffy

Colin Duffy claimed the final Olympic spot with his win at the Pan-American Championship. Not much is known about this young gun out of Boulder, CO, but we’re excited to see him compete.

Follow the Road to the Olympics

Tune in to the 2020 Olympic games from [Tuesday, August 3rd to Friday, August 6th] to see these competitors and more represent our amazing sport for the first time! Rock Spot Climbing will continue to provide updates and hype, so check back to learn more and get psyched!

Our next Olympic article will focus on the current competitors; who they are and how they became the very first climbers to represent the United States. Keep it locked here as we update this article to be your main hub for all things Olympic in the sport of climbing.

Learn more from our interview with NBC

With all eyes on the Olympics, NBC reached out to us to show off our sport in a couple segments, the first of which aired on TUESDAY (JULY 20, 2021) at 12:30PM during their Rhode Island daytime lifestyle show with host Rosie @therosiewoods! The second will play in Boston sometime next week so keep your eyes out for that segment and if you can’t watch today’s segment live on TV, you can watch it using the link here.

Watch our very first commercial!

Climbing is more than a competitive sport.

As climbing makes its Olympic debut after a year being delayed due to the global pandemic, Rock Spot Climbing wishes Team USA and all the competitors the best of luck on this historic moment.

The sport has so much more to offer. From the community that surrounds it to the physical, mental, and emotional benefits it offers everyone who participates in it, climbing is something we hope to make accessible and inclusive for all ages, all abilities for years to come.

All you need to do, is walk through our doors.

Learn more about the history of the competitive side of our sport from the Try Guys on YouTube!

Sport climbing is now so big it’s made it into the Olympics – but what’s it all about? Zach and Keith look at the history of the sport and take climbing lessons from pro sports climber Josh Levin.

From the official Olympic YouTube Channel

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