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SALT LAKE CITY — Though he’s already won a slew of competitions in the past few years, this Utah climber doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
19-year-old Salt Lake City resident Nathaniel Coleman won second place last month in the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World University Championships in Shangai, China on Oct. 16.
The University of Utah student has been climbing at the Momentum Indoor Climbing gym since he was 9 years old and has won or placed in several regional, national and international youth and adult competitions over the years.
“I’ve definitely gotten more serious,” Coleman said. “I was just doing it for fun and I realized I could have potential. Now I’m really looking at it as my lifestyle and something I’ll be pursuing for the rest of my life.”
Earlier this year, Coleman placed second in the 2016 Psicobloc Masters competition, an event that draws choice climbers from all over the world to Park City, Utah. In 2015, Coleman placed fourth in the IFSC Bouldering World Cup.
His wins in past competitions have since qualified him to compete in Shanghai.
“We didn’t know if there were going to be a lot of strong people there or if we were going to be the only ones there, we had no idea,” Coleman said. “It’s cool to go into the event with no expectations and have it turn out so well.”
Recently, the International Olympic Committee approved the sport of climbing to be included in the 2020 Olympic Games and Coleman’s competition results have made him a top contender to represent the U.S. in Tokyo.
“Nathaniel’s journey, starting with the beginning of his training… to his current position as a possible Olympic contender, has been remarkable,” Momentum’s CEO and one of Coleman’s former coaches, Jeff Pedersen, said in a press release. “This year has been a picture-perfect way for him to complete his youth career. Everyone at Momentum is eager to follow his next chapter of climbing.”
The Olympic games will most likely include an amalgam of three different climbing styles including sport, bouldering and 15-meter speed, and the Olympic games are definitely something that Coleman wants to work towards. Though he is studying computer science at the University of Utah, Coleman also hopes to one day be a semi-professional climber.
“It’s been all sunshine and flowers for me,” Coleman said. “I mean, it’s been hard to train and stay motivated and everything, but I’m really lucky to be living in Salt Lake and have a few friends who are as dedicated to climbing as I am. So we train together and we keep each other psyched.”
Though Coleman discovered his love for climbing at a young age, he also has a few words of advice for those who may just be beginning.
“The best approach is to know that there’s always gonna be someone better than you, there’s always gonna be the next level to challenge yourself,” Coleman said. “So if you like that challenge and you like being outdoors and out in nature, I’d say pick it up and it’s never too late to start.”
Liesl is a student at Brigham Young University and currently works as a news writing intern for KSL.com. You can email her at email@example.com.