South Florida rock climber sets sights on 2020 Summer Olympics

MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida rock climber has set his sights on competing in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, which has added the sport to the upcoming Olympic games.

“To be those two males from the U.S. team, to represent them, it’s going to take a lot of work,” said Olympic hopeful Sam Vasquez. “I’m not too far from it. I’m not too close to it either. I just have to push myself.”

Vasquez is 17 years old and a sophomore at G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School. He has the chance to qualify for one of the two male spots for the 32nd Summer Olympics.

The 110-pound sophomore said rock climbing is more than just a hobby. “I’m just having fun, enjoying something I never thought I would do, honestly,” said Vasquez. “Especially going upside down like that. It’s just my favorite thing about climbing.”

One of Vasquez’s coaches, and climbing partner, Mario Morante, said he will have to work hard to make the Olympics. “That’s what it takes,” said Morante. “You wanna be physically fit. I mean you don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger, but for him to be an Olympic athlete, you have to be slender, strong, and he’s the perfect candidate for that.”

There will be three disciplines for rock climbing at the Summer Olympics: sport and bouldering, which are based on time and speed and includes racing your opponent up the walls.

Vasquez said he attacks the walls five days a week and that there’s mental strategy that goes into climbing. “I look at the route, and I look at what I’m gonna do and envision where I’m going to go at the moment,” he said. “That’s why you see me almost like a ninja going around.”

However, the 17-year-old said he isn’t completely fearless when climbing. “At times, especially when boudlering, when I’m 15 feet high without a rope or anything,” Vasquez said, “I just trust myself not to fall, and if I do, I believe there’s going to be padding below me.”

Some new sports that were also added include karate, skateboarding and surfing.

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