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Alannah Yip and Her Rise to the Olympics

After 20 years of climbing, Canada's Alannah Yip is ready for the Olympics

Sometimes it’s difficult to understand an athlete’s success, other times it’s a moment in which all is perfect and the athlete rises victorious. For Canada’s Alannah Yip, it came down to the Pan-Am Championships in L.A., but earning her ticket tot he Olympics wasn’t just about one competition.

Yip began climbing at the age of six and went on to join The Edge Climbing Team three years later. Though many climbers begin their journey alone, Yip spent her time on the wall with family friends’ Jason and Sean McColl, two climbers who were both mentors and inspirations.

Yip remained in Vancouver for the entirety of her young life, climbing hard with the team until she aged-out of the youth category. Over the course of that time, Yip won a number of competitions. At 12 years old, Yip won her first national climbing championship.

Adult Career

Since then, Yip’s progression has expanded outside the Canadian competition scene into outdoor climbing and the international circuit. Yip is credited with the first female ascent of Pulse 5.14a in 2017.

The notoriously difficult route was first established by Jim Sandford in the 1990s and was Canada’s first 5.14.

Earlier that year, Yip went on to be the first Canadian female to make finals at an IFSC World Cup. This Chongqing Bouldering World Championship would mark the first in a steady line of strong performances. She finished 13th in bouldering and 15th overall in the IFSC World Championship categories in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

While her strong performances are indicative of an exceptional climber, what is perhaps the most impressive is Yip’s ability to multitask. Many climbers are unable to juggle the challenges of school, work and climbing, but Yip completed her bachelor’s of science in mechanical engineering the same year that she finished 13th in bouldering at the IFSC World Championships.

Though her life would have been exceptionally busy anyhow, the UBC graduate and international competitor maintained her position as a coach for the Climb Base 5 North Shore Youth Team. Her commitment to the younger generation shows that she understands the importance of sport among youth, but also the depth of her love for climbing and the community.

The Olympics

With school complete, Yip took 2019 by the horns, setting her sights on the 2020 Olympic Games. Set to take place in August, she’s worked hard to secure one of the few available positions.

With climbing set to debut at the Olympics this year, there are only a limited number of spots and not every country will have athletes competing. Prospective Olympians had to compete against one another over the course of three qualifying competitions.

For athletes representing countries from the Americas, the Pan-American Combined Championship marked the final opportunity to qualify. Unlike the previous qualification rounds held in Hachioji and Toulouse, only the victor of the Pan-Am event would head to the Olympics.

Yip competed in both Hachioji and Toulouse, taking 14th and 13th respectively. Despite her strong finishes, she didn’t clinch a spot. But after months of close calls, tough training sessions and dedicated focus, Yip found herself on top of the Pan-American Podium.

Today, Yip thanks her family and friends, her teammates and her country. She stands as an example of the merits of hard work and continues to inspire Canadian climbers. With the qualification behind her, Yip looks toward the Olympic Games in Tokyo. However, the Olympics might have to be postponed due to the coronavirus, read here for more.