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Congrats to Sean McColl on Achieving Olympic Dream

"In the end, I’ll fall asleep an Olympian, which is exactly what I asked for"

Photo by: Dimitris Tosidis of Sean McColl at the Olympics

Team Canada’s Sean McColl is one of the world’s most experienced competitors, with nearly two decades of international events and podium finishes to his name. He helped push for Sport Climbing to be part of the Olympics and was the Combined World Champion three times.

At today’s qualifiers and the debut of climbing at the Olympics, McColl finished 17th out of a possible 20 men. In first place was Mickael Mawem from France, followed by Tomoa Narasaki and America’s Colin Duffy. Rounding out the finals from fourth to eighth are Jakob Schubert, Adam Ondra, Alberto Gines Lopez, Bassa Mawem, and Nathaniel Coleman. Bassa suffered a serious arm injury that might prevent him from competing in finals, which would mean that Alex Megos will advance in ninth.

Noah Walker did a great job of unpacking the men’s qualifiers, where each athlete is going down in the history books for participating in the first Olympic Sport Climbing round, which you can read here. And all of us at Gripped would like to send a big congrats to McColl on accomplishing his dream of competing in the Olympics. We’ve been following his career since day one, and we couldn’t be happier for him on achieving his Olympic goals.

Women’s qualifiers are tomorrow, and we can’t wait to watch Canadian Alannah Yip compete against some of the best in the world. See what McColl had to say about his Olympic experience below.

Although I didn’t advance to finals, I am relieved that it all even happened. The past 18 months have been extremely hard mentally. I pride myself for being extremely mentally resilient and there were days I didn’t know if I was going to make it. The question mark on whether or not the games would happen was a fear I thought of every single day for 18 months. To work and qualify for something and be unable to control its fate is extremely draining. As time passed, training staggered; when it looked as if the Olympics would still go on, another adversary loomed, Covid. If you caught it, you couldn’t compete, or couldn’t go, I wouldn’t become an Olympian. All this preparation could just be ripped away along with the years of prep and qualification. This was a constant fear and again something that went through my mind every day. The other big difference was training without facilities and in isolation. I’ve followed a similar training plan for the last 10 years, always training, traveling, and competing in Europe with my friends. Covid put that to a halt, and my climbing suffered from it. I did the best thing that was available to me, made a home-gym. I did the best with what was presented to me but it just wasn’t the same, I am not the same climber I was 18 months ago. Training in isolation for the better part of a year was at times draining, I got it done but again it’s just not the same. There were many days I had to force myself to climb, force myself to do anything at all. I’m glad that part is done now, I can move on and still be proud that I made it here. Thank you to everyone for their support and kind words, it means the world to me and every single cheer brings a smile to my face. I could feel the energy behind me and I still enjoyed some amazing moments. In the end, I’ll fall asleep an Olympian, which is exactly what I asked for.

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Lead photo: Dimitris Tosidis of Sean McColl at the Olympics