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Colin Duffy (USA) Age: 16
A sensation! Colin Duffy has been the talk of the climbing world in 2020 after his staggering performance at the PanAmerican Championship in Los Angeles this past February netted him an Olympic slot. Until this season, watching Duffy was an annual treat for IFSC viewers, who only got to watch him in the World Youth Championships each year whilst waiting for him to reach 16 - the minimum age at which climbers can compete in senior events. Judging by what happened in LA in February, the wait was more than worth it!
Duffy won the first two World Youth Championships he contested in his favoured discipline of Lead, picking up gold in Innsbruck (2017) and Moscow (2018) thanks to some battling performances. His ability to fight and to push through fatigue was quite extraordinary, and those who watched him at those events knew that they were catching a glimpse of the future. Perhaps the only surprise about Duffy’s recent arrival on the senior scene is that his predicted glorious future has arrived so quickly - Duffy is now an Olympian-to-be, an extremely strong boulderer and a pretty handy Speed climber too. His coach - the legendary Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou - has long believed that Duffy was the real deal and it is now easy to understand her faith in him.
PanAmerican Championship: 1st place
Duffy had strong competition in Los Angeles - not least from compatriot Sean Bailey, who’d come close to Olympic qualification at both Hachioji and Toulouse - but Duffy seemed completely calm in southern California, and took the Olympic ticket from under the noses of Bailey and several other strong Americans. Even after the event, he was calm, collected and mature beyond his years.
At 16, Duffy is the youngest qualified Olympian of either gender, and hadn’t competed in any senior IFSC events until the PanAmerican selection event in Los Angeles! Although he has no recorded Speed PBs yet in senior World Cups, Duffy ran a time of 7.11 seconds in the PanAmerican Championships final in 2019.
Duffy is a real scrapper, a truly world class Lead climber, a very good boulderer and far from the worst Speed climber in the men’s Olympic lineup. These factors, combined with a complete lack of pressure on him, makes him our dark horse for a spot in the final - especially as he has another year of physical growth due to postponement. We think he’ll end up making the final, but not the podium.