Olympics 2020: Sean McColl


© Eddie Fowke

North Vancouver, Canada
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IFSC World Cup Wins Podiums
Speed 0PB: 6.997s 0
Boulder 2 14
Lead 3 20
View IFSC profile
  • 4 x Combined World Championships Gold (2009, 2012, 2014, 2016)
  • 2012 World Championships Lead - Silver
  • World Cup Overall - 4x Silver, 2 x Gold (Combined); 2013 Boulder - Bronze; 2014 Lead - Silver.








Sean McColl (CAN) Age: 33

A chance encounter with climbing at a friend’s birthday party at the age of 10 marked the start of Sean McColl’s climb to Tokyo. Following a successful youth competition career in both Lead and Speed events – which pre-dated the introduction of the IFSC youth Boulder events – McColl smoothly transitioned to senior level and has been a circuit fixture in Lead and Boulder since 2006. Over a senior career spanning more than 15 years, McColl has won 34 medals, five of which are gold. Although he has never won a World Championship title in an individual discipline, McColl won the 2012 Overall Climbing World Championships in Paris, having performed best across the separate Lead, Speed and Boulder events – an early ‘combined’ format – and has topped the Overall World Cup Combined Ranking four times.

In his ambassadorial roles within the IFSC Athletes’ Commission – of which he is the current President – McColl played an important part in securing the sport’s Olympic status. When Sport Climbing was announced as a new Olympic event in 2016, McColl was quick to add the descriptor ‘Future Olympian’ to his website and make qualification a four-year goal. McColl’s hasty, footless and dynamic climbing style is exciting to watch, but has sometimes led to mistakes, slips and erratic results. Despite his well-roundedness throughout his career, proved by his four Overall World Cup wins, McColl hasn’t so far quite lived up to the hype and expectation that many followers - and perhaps he himself - had for strong performances in the new Olympic Combined format. At 32, he’s a veteran with a strong pedigree, but younger competitors are adapting to the one-day triathlon a bit better. A crowd-pleaser and social media-savvy climber, McColl will likely find himself some new fans in Tokyo.

Qualification route

Hachioji World Championships: 10th place

With four Japanese athletes qualifying for the Combined final in Hachioji, this meant that the two non-Japanese athletes in 9th and 10th position completed the group of eight climbers to earn the first Olympic berths in Hachioji. McColl was just on the threshold of making the cut, and for a moment it looked as though Adam Ondra had knocked him out of contention on the Lead wall, until his score was marked down due to a bolt-stepping incident following an appeal. It was an emotional half-hour for McColl, whose ticket was up in the air but ultimately punched thanks to an atypical error by fan-favourite Ondra


McColl is a Level 10 pianist, a Rubix Cube expert and is fluent in French.

UKC prediction

Although he qualified at the earliest opportunity, we think that McColl will need to up his game to make a top-10 position in Tokyo. His Speed PB is fast, but he needs more consistency in both Speed and Boulder to balance his better rankings in Lead. A top-15 finish is possible, but there are some younger unknowns who will be upping the ante in the next few months. 

© Eddie Fowke
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