Skip to main content

Murray Journal

Olympic climber maintains focus despite postponement of games

Jul 08, 2020 02:44PM ● By Ryanne Riet

Competitive climber and Olympic qualifier Nathaniel Coleman does outdoor conditioning to help his mind reset. (Photo courtesy Nathaniel Coleman)

By Ryanne Riet | [email protected]

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics was supposed to have been the year that competitive climbing was added to the list of Olympic events.

Murray High alum Nathaniel Coleman was the first male in U.S. history to qualify for the Olympics in climbing.

“My proudest moment was during the lead climbing portion of the Toulouse Qualifying Event,” Coleman said, “that is where I earned my Olympic invitation.”

Nathaniel had three potential events that he could have participated in to receive his invitation to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The first was the World Championships in Hachioji, Japan. Though he came very close, he was unable to qualify for the Olympics in that event.

The second was held in November of 2019 in the Toulouse, France Olympic qualifier event.

There he needed to place eighth or better to qualify, Nathaniel placed exactly eighth and was proud and humbled to accept his Olympic invitation.

The third and final qualifying Olympic event took place in February 2020 at the Pan-American championship in Los Angeles, where the second U.S. male competitive climber qualified to join the list of athletes to compete in the next summer Olympics.

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed until 2021, that leaves many Olympic athletes anxious and a bit disheartened.

“I think my biggest challenge will be to maintain focus on this goal for another year without letting it stress me out too much,” Coleman said. “Competitive climbing is very high intensity, while outdoor climbing can act as a mental reset.”

Nathaniel plans to stay sharp and ready to compete in 2021 by adding a healthy mix of competitive climbing and outdoor climbing to keep his mind at ease while maintaining the competitive edge he will need to place well in his Olympic event.

“The postponement has given me time to let my body and mind fully recover from training,” Coleman said. “However, competing is a skill that’s hard to maintain without practice, so staying mentally sharp will be the biggest challenge.”

With so much to look forward to in his future, Coleman is eager to continue to improve in competitions for the next few years, where he hopes to become a regular finalist in the World Cups.

He also has goals of pursuing more outdoor climbing and would like to seek more opportunities to give back to his local climbing community.