How to make it to the 2020 Olympics


The 2020 games in Tokyo will be the first 'tester' year that climbing will be an Olympic sport! In addition to surfing and skating, the 2020 games will now have a total of 20 men and 20 women from around the world. For Tokyo, climbing competitors will be chosen based on their well rounded performance in the three styles of sport, speed and bouldering.

For those of you licking your lips, here are a few tips on how to get there:

1. Practice Your Diversity.

3 separate styles?! Being good at one thing has its benefits but for this season, practice shining at more than just your favorite bouldering problem. This leaves you more room to truly learn what it is to control positioning, dynamic stable explosion, and problem solving.

This also sets you up for more injuries… Focus on really diversifying your training to ensure that your injuries stay at bay. This includes staying away from hangboard and compressive moves as you first begin to build up your volume. Instead focus on positioning, learning better shoulder stability, and ensuring that you have what it takes with overall fitness to truly begin your training program. When I trained in college, we’d train tired for 3 years just to have the fitness and the skills to spend that 4th year at our level of dream competition. But it took adhering to a plan, following the ropes, and above all- avoidance of getting injured or sick!

2. Embracing Our First Steps as a Community.

As a community, most of us are thankful that our sport has been chosen. Others such as Ondra who is contemplating boycotting the 2020 Games are upset that the competitions are not broken in to individual styles of climbing. Laid out like gymnastics for its first year of the Games, we need to embrace our first year as an olympic sport. Regardless of if the ‘layout’ suits us, the 2020 Olympics will be good for our advocacy programs, our gyms, and our youth programs. With this first step, being an olympic sport now opens up the future of climbing to those who will have undoubtedly never seen it before. This will help us to hopefully make climbing LEGAL in Cuba as well as to open up many outdoor areas to which we have lost access. (Check out this link to see our current goals).

As a side chatter, some professional climbers are VERY unhappy about this first round. Others, including youth teams are soon to be in the position of achieving their dreams. Yes, it’s not perfect this first year, but if it goes off well this first year, this opens doors to allow other formats for the following years. See the chatter at the end of this blog post. Who do you think is going to qualify for the 2020 Games?

3. Get Backup.

Get a health care team. Include a good massage therapist (once a week if you are training hard, twice a week if you are injured), a physiotherapist (see them if you are injured or recovering from an injury), a good chiropractor (if your wrist is 'stuck' or your shoulder has lost its mobility), and a good sports MD (for the big stuff) in case you have an accident or want to ensure you are operating at optimum. Its not a bad idea to get in-depth blood bloodwork and urine testing to insure your body can handle all the training and that you aren't setting yourself up for issues down the road.

Get a training team. Friends that support you, buddies that agree to not ask you to skip that workout. Ditch the significant other if they aren't willing to help you to reach those goals. It's going to take teamwork.

Stock up on good friends. Some athletes train on their own, others need help. Regardless, if you plan on making a run for it, you need backup. You need a family who is going to support you, friends who would rather climb with you than ask you out for a beer, and a team who stands behind you when you need help. You might need a really good job that will allow you to work part time (the USPS is renowned for this).

I’ve had other friends who trained for the Olympics who worked full time and trained at night, and others who skipped the job and lived at home to train. Just keep in mind, you will need high quality foods and supplements that do NOT come cheap. The better the food (and the training) the better a body you can build. Living out of your car with no income might not be the best choice for this, unless you have a friend who cooks for you.