Get to Know Sam Watson: Speed Climbing World Record Holder

It's official! Speed climbing world record holder Sam Watson is the newest member of Team TRUBLUE! By the time you're reading this, Sam has probably already broken his own world record pace, but, as it stands today, 4.79 is the mark to beat.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to Sam Watson about his world record runs, representing Team USA at the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympic Games (in the first ever Speed Climbing standalone event, no less!), and his future plans for life and climbing.

Team TRUBLUE Athletes Sam Watson and Emma Hunt both took gold at IFSC World Cup Salt Lake City 2024

First off, congratulations on qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics! What are you most looking forward to about the experience?

I’m looking forward to using the Olympics first and foremost as a platform to further the sport of speed climbing. Going to the Olympics will be an amazing opportunity to meet people from all over the world and I’m so glad I get to go with my Team USA teammates.

You recently broke the world record in Speed Climbing at the Wujiang World Cup with an unbelievable time of 4.79 seconds. What was going through your mind before your world record race? How about afterwards?

I had two world record races in Wujiang. My first qualification run I was not necessarily trying to push towards the world record. I was simply at the speed in which an above average run would be below the mark of 4.902. The second qualification run I did try a bit more to go at a faster pace in order to break my own record and the run did work out.

You've been climbing for USA Climbing since 2022 now and the IFSC Climbing World Cup series has taken you to events all over the world in that time. What has been your favorite World Cup event so far? Why?

My favorite world cup event that I’ve been to so far was the 2022 World Cup in Jakarta. I really enjoyed going for around a week before between the Seoul World Cup and that one. The Indonesian team invited the US team to stay where they live and we ended up having great trainings and a great time together.

What keeps you motivated?

There’s way too many answers to this question for me to choose one. But if I were to highlight one thing I would say the stories of others that look up to me and how my actions can inspire them.

What does your normal training routine look like?

It depends and a lot of the time there’s alterations based on where I am in the “cycle” but when it comes down to it, just getting on the speed wall and doing laps is the most important part!

How does TRUBLUE factor into your training?

It’s great to always have something that I can rely on to train solo that will be perfectly safe to use as long as it’s used properly.

I read that you’ve been climbing since you were 5. What was it about climbing that got you hooked so early?

I found climbing to be incredibly addicting. I did all 3 disciplines to start out, even at that age. My first experience in speed climbing was doing the same route at my local gym and trying to get my time down to under a minute.

Do you climb outdoors as well?

I love outdoor activities, being in nature and bouldering and lead climbing outdoors when I can. My favorite climbing trip I’ve ever taken was a few years ago was to HP40 (an outdoor climbing area in Alabama) and I got stuck doing this v3 sloper boulder problem that absolutely crushed my ego. Took me a few hours to send and was one of the more meaningful climbs of my life.

You’re headed to the University of Utah in the fall. First, congratulations! That’s a beautiful area. Do you have any climbing plans out there or are you totally locked in until after the Olympics?

I love living here! Training at gyms and the training center has been amazing. I’ve been to some of the outdoor areas a few times but haven’t been putting a ton of effort into climbing harder there. The outdoors and this beautiful place can be enjoyed even if it looks just a hike, a walk in the park, or a cold dip in the river.

What do you like to do when you’re not climbing?

I am an absolute massive fan of learning. Whether it’s studying a new language to speak in an upcoming event in another county, chess book openings or tactics, keeping up on the modern news or just academics in general. I value information a ton, and being a lifelong learner and enjoying doing that helps when it comes down to thinking “outside the box” and being better able to break down getting better at speed.

Follow Sam on Instagram @samuelwatson_ 

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