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Olympics

PreGames Interview: Kyra Condie and Nathaniel Coleman on Plusses / Minuses, Games Vs. World Cup, and How These Olympics Are Different

Says Condie: “I’ve always said that my superpower in climbing is being able to separate my self-worth from my climbing ability."

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Coleman at the Vail World Cup, where he has placed second and eighth. Photo: IFSC

Twenty days. That’s how many remain until the Olympics as of Friday, July 2. In anticipation of the Games, Kyra Condie and Nathanial Coleman, who are 50 percent of the American team attending, sat down with us in June for an intimate and forthcoming “Meet Two Olympians” interview (see video above).

Says Condie, asked about strengths and weaknesses: “I’ve always said that my superpower in climbing is being able to separate my self-worth from my climbing ability. So if a session isn’t going as well as I want, it doesn’t reflect on how I think of myself.”

The two give their feelings about last year’s delay of the Games; the necessity of competing in speed when many are difficulty (lead or boulder) rather than speed climbers; and how the Olympics, in which 20 men and 20 women compete, and the World Cup, where the fields are regularly about 100, compare as a gauge. All are discussed in an exclusive interview for the Outside Games (ASL interpreters on site). And of course, hear how Coleman and Condie are preparing, mentally as well as physically, as both go off to the comp of a lifetime.

Making finals to come in fifth at the Bouldering World Cup in Vail in 2018. Photo: Eddie Fowke / IFSC

Among various recent results, Condie and Coleman placed eighth and 10th respectively in the Bouldering World Cup in Salt Lake at the end of May, then 21st and sixth in bouldering at the World Cup in Innsbruck, Austria, last weekend, and 21st (again) and 45th in lead. Such are the usual ups and downs of competitive climbers, though otherwise this is an unusual year.

Innsbruck offered both lead and bouldering, normally separate events—with the Bouldering World Cup in the spring, Lead starting midsummer—but, again, it’s an unusual and compressed comp season, between a pandemic and climbing’s entrance into the Olympics for the first time ever.

American Sign Language interpreters are onsite for the interview.

Meet these two Olympians as they head off for the Olympics, leaving July 21 for the climbing event, which will go from August 3-6, with a combined score for performances in lead, bouldering and speed climbing. Scores are not historically combined, but such is the present Olympic format, and qualifications used that format.

The athletes will, in this pandemic-haunted time, go off to an Olympics in which they will neither be able to stay in an Olympic Village nor watch other events. Hear Condie’s explanation in the interview of what to expect now and how in various ways the 2024 Olympics, to be held in Paris only three years from these, will differ from this year, the big debut.

Kyra Condie in semifinals at the Lead World Cup, Innsbruck, June 25. Photo: Marco Kost / Getty Images

Interview is by Alison Osius, senior editor of Climbing and Gym Climber, who competed in the first climbing World Cup held in America, at Snowbird, Utah, in 1988, also Nationals, World Cups, and the X Games.