Sean McColl and Alannah Yip officially heading to Tokyo Olympics

Canadians will compete in first-ever Olympic climbing event

Canadian climbers Sean McColl and Alannah Yip have officially punched their proverbial tickets to compete in sport climbing at the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer. The Canadian Olympic Committee and Climbing Escalade Canada nominated the pair to the Tokyo 2020 team on Friday.

“It has been my dream since before I can remember to be an Olympic athlete; to have this come true in climbing, something I fell in love with at 10 years old, is truly the highlight of my life,” said McColl. “Joining Team Canada with Alannah is a dream come true. I grew up with Alannah before she started climbing. I introduced her to the sport and now we are becoming Olympic athletes together in the inauguration of our sport!”

McColl is the best-known climber in the country and has been crowned world champion in the combined event four times (2009, 2012, 2014, 2016). And that bodes well for McColl’s chances at the Olympics because he combined event, which includes the disciplines of speed, bouldering, and lead, is the only climbing event at Tokyo 2020.

Yip just made it into the Olympic qualifying picture last spring, just before the pandemic hit, when she won the 2020 International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) Pan American Championships in California. She posted a first-place result in boulder, a third-place finish in lead and fifth place in speed to take the win and the last available Pan American qualification spot for the Games.

It’s kind of perfect as Yip, Canada’s top women’s climber, grew up in North Vancouver and got interested in climbing watching her brother and McColl.

“He’s a family friend,” Yip told Get Out There in a previous interview. “I always looked up to him and his brother, so when they started climbing I wanted to try it too. When I did, I was hooked.”

“When I was young I dreamed of getting to compete in the Olympics. I was lucky enough to watch the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony in person, and my favourite part was the athlete parade. Watching all of the athletes proudly representing their countries, and thinking about how much work and sacrifice each and every one of them must have put in to get there was so emotional for me,” said 27-year-old Yip. 

“Now that my sport is for the first time a part of the Olympic Games, I am beyond excited to get to be a part of it. It means the world to me that I will get to go with my family friend Sean McColl who has been like an older brother to me my entire life and my coach Andrew Wilson who I have been working with since the age of nine.”

McColl has earned 34 World Cup medals, and 12 open national titles but to non-climbing fans he is best-known for his appearances on the TV show American Ninja Warrior. 

McColl qualified for the Olympics with his 10th place finish in the combined event at the 2019 IFSC Climbing World Championships in Hachioji, Japan.

Sport climbing will make its Olympic debut at the Aomi Urban Sports Park and will take place Aug. 3 to 6.


Get Out There Videos

Event reviews and reports from running and trail races to bike and cross-country ski marathons as well as travel, adventure and more!



“You don't have to go fast. You just have to go.”

More motivation on Facebook