Climber Sean McColl is ready for the Olympics no matter the date

Arjun Ram
Story by Arjun Ram and CBC Kids News • Published 2020-05-12 16:05

Athlete is using his time to build a climbing wall

Sean McColl has been training for the Olympics for the past four years.

Now the 32-year-old has to wait another year before he can compete on the world stage at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

But the competitive climber isn’t disappointed.

“For me, as long as the objective is there … I'm motivated,” he told CBC Kids News from his home in North Vancouver. “The competition date is just a competition date.”

Climbing was set to make its debut at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in July, but the games were postponed by one year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sean McColl competes in a lead event in 2019, one three climbing disciplines. In lead, athletes try to climb as high as possible within a specific time. (Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

At first, Canada announced that it wouldn’t send its athletes to the Games.

“I 100 per cent agreed with the choice that they made,” McColl said about the Canadian team’s decision, but he was a bit worried the Games would go on without Canada.

Within a couple of days, the International Olympic Committee postponed the Games for everyone.

“Once that announcement came out, I was fine,” he said.

Quote board: “Be creative and start a hobby. It’s not easy for people to start a new hobby. And so I would encourage kids to put aside their preexisting thoughts about what they think about a certain thing and just try it. And if after an hour or two you really don't like that sport or a hobby or that activity, then you don't ever have to do it again. The point is to have fun.”

McColl’s training hasn’t stopped.

He’s spending several hours a day doing cardio and strength conditioning.

He’s also learning German, doing puzzles and building his own climbing wall, since he can’t go to gyms.

“A lot of work has been going into that just because I need the wall for basically training for the Olympics,” he said. “So that'll be like basically my training grounds for the next year.”

McColl said he’s always wanted to build his own wall and “it was kick-started by COVID.”

A man works with tools in front of a garage

Climber Sean McColl spends several hours a day building a climbing wall. (Submitted by Sean McColl)

Although he’s not sure when the next competition will take place, McColl’s looking on the bright side.

“I'm qualified [for the Olympics] now more than a year out,” he said. “But I consider it gives me just that extra time to kind of zone in on the training.”

McColl understands these times can be difficult for kids.

“As strange and as long as the situation feels, it will have an end,” he said. “Things will get better.”

Favourite thing to listen to while training: The Daily podcast. Favourite coronavirus snack: Frozen fruit for dessert. First thing he wants to do when physical distancing is over: Get together with friends.

Check out these other articles about what Olympic hopefuls are doing during COVID-19:


About the Contributor

Arjun Ram
Arjun Ram
CBC Kids News Contributor
Arjun Ram is a Grade 11 French immersion student from Hamilton, Ont., with many diverse interests such as sports, music and math. Arjun has developed an interest in reporting on social and political issues as well as important developments in the area of professional sports. He hopes to one day work as a news anchor for CBC.

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