Sean McColl: the charismatic climber pushing the sport to new heights

SEAN McCOLL, the charismatic Canadian climber always seeking the next challenge, talks to us exclusively about his career to date and dreams and ambitions for the future.

 Sean McColl

Sean McColl is a 28-year-old rock climber who currently lives with his girlfriend in France.


SEAN McColl is a Canadian climber who has achieved many firsts and broken several records in the world of climbing. His passion for the sport and to succeed is only matched by his desire to help guide youngsters into their climbing careers and he has been a co-head or assistant coach of the Canadian Youth National Team for several years.


In this exclusive interview Sean talks to us about some of the heights he’s reached in his career to date as well as well as what it means to him to be a role model. Read on to find out more about his new life in France and his dreams to be an Olympian by 2020.


To read more about this inspirational climber and to keep up with his videos and blogs visit www.seanmccoll.com



When did you start climbing and who helped to influence your passion?


I started climbing in 1997 and looked up to the ‘better’ climbers of every generation. I always had someone to chase in my training and I was always looking for my next goal or accomplishment. My coaches helped sculpt me into the climber I am today and my family and friends gave me everything I needed to get here.


Could you tell us about the area you grew up in and the opportunities it gave you to climb?


I grew up in North Vancouver, BC, Canada. Vancouver is a beautiful city with access to the US, the ocean, skiing and any other amount of activities all within a one-hour drive. The climbing gym was about 15 minutes by car and I would take the bus there for training after school. I trained roughly three times a week for the first few years of climbing alongside other sports which include soccer and skiing. For outdoor climbing, Squamish was only one-hour away.


Sean McColl

Sean is the only climber to have placed top eight in every discipline of the IFSC World Cup.


What have been your biggest achievements as a climber and what are some of your most memorable climbs?


My biggest achievements as a climber so far would be:


Only climber to have placed top eight in every discipline of the IFSC World Cup (lead, boulder, speed); first Canadian to achieve 9a (5.14d) and onsight 8b+ (5.14a); first Canadian to appear on American Ninja Warrior; first Canadian to achieve 8C (V15) boulder and flash 8B (V13); first and only North American Man to be Adult World Champion; first and only North American to have won both Lead and Boulder World Cups. My most memorable climb was Dreamcatcher (9a, 5.14d) in Squamish, BC.


What have been your roles in terms of coaching the Canadian Youth National Team and what is the message you try to instil on young people looking to you for guidance?


I have been a co-head or assistant coach of the Canadian Youth National Team for a number of years but for some reason was not selected in 2015…


Being the only Canadian on the circuit participating in all three disciplines, my greatest strength is competition experience, knowledge of rules and formalities, and a huge script of climbing movement and the ability to look at a climber and know where they need work.


I also try to teach young athletes to enjoy the process of training, competing, success and disappointment (all of which they will have). I have been in almost every situation imaginable with climbing and it ultimately comes down to making good, precise decisions and solving problems or complex scenarios. For me, there is always a solution and maybe multiple!


Sean McColl

Sean takes pride knowing that young climbers around the world look up to him and his achievements.


How does it feel to know that these young people must look up to you and the youth records you hold?


I feel very honoured that so many young athletes look up to me and I take it upon myself to help them along their path. I try to be available to athletes and fans and answer all their questions. When I was a young climber, if my idol didn’t even have the courtesy to say ‘hi’ when I met them in person, that would have crushed my world. I hope that I can sculpt the next generation of Canadian climbers so they can beat my records and compete where I am today.


Tell us about your life in France and the places you most enjoy climbing there?


Life in France is like something out of a book. I get my bread a few times a week, can eat amazing cheese and also every other stereotype you can imagine. My girlfriend is French and training with her is everything I need. My favourite place to climb in France would be in Fontainebleau.


What are you currently training for and do you have any exciting plans or projects lined up for 2016 and beyond?


I am currently training for nothing as I’m in full off-season at the moment. Come January, I’ll sit down and plan out my 2016 season. There are a few long-term projects in my head, but those are kept for myself. An ultimate long-term goal would to be an Olympian at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games!


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