America’s First Olympic Climbing Team

Article by Mike Paukner

According to ancient texts and historical records, the first Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 BC. This ancient tradition has withstood the test of time, and now being an Olympic champion is one of the most coveted dreams for aspiring athletes. 

Now, in 2020, at least 16 countries have representation in the first Olympic games to include rock climbing! Some of the worlds strongest climbers will be in attendance, putting even more pressure on the USA’s young team.

3 American climbers have already secured their spot, but how did they get here?

Brooke Raboutou

Brooke Raboutou

The daughter of former climbing world cup champions Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou and Didier Raboutou, climbing was always in Brooke’s blood. She started climbing at the tender age of 1 in Boulder, Colorado. 

Brooke’s streak of breaking climbing records is astounding. She was the first 9 year old to climb V10, and the first 10 year old to climb V11. After then becoming the youngest person in the world to climb 5.14b, at age 11, it was abundantly clear Brooke was on the road to an impressive climbing career. 

At the 2019 IFSC (International Federation of Sport Climbing) Climbing World Championships held in Hachioji, Japan, 253 athletes competed for 7 qualifying spots in the 2020 Olympics. Brooke’s combined scores for bouldering, lead, and speed were enough to qualify with a 9th place finish. Now a V13 boulderer and a house-hold name in climbing competition, Brooke looks to bring home Gold as the first member of the United States’ rock climbing team.

Nathaniel Coleman

Nathaniel Coleman

First introduced to climbing at age 9, Nathaniel Coleman has made a name for himself as one of the United State’s strongest boulderers. A native of Utah, and a self-proclaimed sandstone lover, Nathaniel has been a mainstay in bouldering competitions since 2012. 

Nathaniel’s list of competition wins is impressive to say the least. Starting as a youth competitor, he won the USA Climbing Youth Bouldering Nationals in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Then, from 2016 to 2018, he won three straight USA Climbing Bouldering Open National Championships, then finished 2nd in 2019. Suffice it to say, climbing competitions are where Nathaniel feels most at home. 

His cool-headed demeanor was on display at the IFSC Combined Qualifier in Toulouse, France in 2019. His stellar showing in the bouldering category was enough to propel him into qualification territory.

Though he has less experience in lead and speed competitions, his track record in bouldering competitions clearly showcases why Nathaniel Coleman is Team USA’s second qualified rock climber.

Kyra Condie

Kyra Condie

A rock climber since the age of 10, Kyra Condie epitomizes dedication to the sport. She found climbing when she attended a friend’s birthday at a small climbing gym in Minnesota. Shortly after, she was training with the gym’s competitive team. She quickly progressed, and qualified for Youth Bouldering Nationals within her first year on the team. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before she received news that no young athlete wants to hear. 

Kyra was diagnosed with severe idiopathic scoliosis at age 13 and doctors told her climbing may not be the sport for her. After interviewing several surgeons, she underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2010, and returned to competitive climbing after several months of recovery. 

Her fused spine makes some static, technical movement harder, so Kyra prefers to move quickly and trust her strong fingers. Kyra credits her aggressive, dynamic climbing style to the overhung training wall she utilized when she first started climbing. She follows a strict training regiment, instilled in her by many late-night solo training sessions.

Kyra returned to competition in 2011, and won the Youth Bouldering National Championship in 2012, 2013, and 2014. She has since competed in IFSC competitions all over the world, and has cemented herself as an elite rock climber. Her finish in the IFSC Combined Qualifier in 2019 secured her spot on the USA’s Olympic climbing team, where she hopes her mentality of giving maximum effort will prove effective.

The final opportunity to secure an invitation to the Tokyo 2020 Games will take place at The Pan-American Continental Championship in Los Angeles from February 27 to March 1. The competition will be fierce, with many elite athletes vying for the right to represent their country. With only 1 spot for the top competitor in each gender, the stakes are high for anyone still looking to punch their ticket to Tokyo!

Follow the Road to the Olympics

Tune in to the 2020 Olympic games from Tuesday, August 4th to Friday, August 7th 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 feature the results from the Pan-American Continental Championship and be sure to check out our primer for Olympic Sport Climbing here. Keep it locked here as we update this article to be your main hub for all things Olympic in the sport of climbing.

Current & Upcoming Articles

  • Olympic Sport Climbing
  • Results of the Pan-American Championships
  • A Closer Look at Competitive Climbing
  • More to come!