Paris Olympics 2024 (Team USA): Meet Samuel Watson

Samuel Watson is eighteen years old professional speed climber from the United States, who is the youngest male climber to win a gold medal at an IFSC Climbing World Cup. He has qualified for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Samuel Watson’s Early Life and Family Support

Samuel Watson was born in 2006 in Southlake, Texas, where he still resides today under the loving care of his parents, Ray and Lisa Watson. His mom and dad have been supporting, and standing behind Samuel every step of his climbing journey.

Samuel Watson with his Dog
Image: Samuel Watson with his beloved pet (Source: Antonia’s Instagram)

” I love [my parents] so dearly. They’ve gone to almost every single competition on the adult circuit, traveled the world, and supported me financially, and emotionally, after every single bad comp. I could always go for them for a hug after every single great comp and that feels even better.”

Watson openly expressed his deep love and appreciation for his parents.

His parents have made huge personal and financial sacrifices to support his career, attending nearly all of his competitions across the globe to cheer him.

Samuel Watson Qualify for the Paris Olympics 2024

Samuel Watson, the 17-year-old American speed climber, made his spot at the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympic Games after capturing gold in the men’s Speed event at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.

In the finals, Watson raced up the 15-meter wall in just 5.37 seconds, beating his teammate Noah Bratschi to top the podium. He also breaks the existing Pan American record during qualifications, the record of 5.02 seconds in the qualification round.

Watson first faced off against Isaac Estevez in the quarterfinals, defeating the Ecuadorean with a 5.05-second, then matched up against Canada’s Ethan Flynn-Pitcher in the semis, punching his ticket to the finals with another 5.32-second finish. Noah Bratschi qualified as well on the American squad, posting a semi-final time of 5.37 seconds.

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Upon winning gold, Watson shared a heartfelt hug with his father Ray, who was moved to tears. Watson became the fourth American quota winner for the Paris Games, joining fellow climbers Emma Hunt, Colin Duffy, and Piper Kelly on USA Climbing‘s 2024 Olympic roster.

Samuel Watson’s Climbing Career So Far

Watson first discovered his passion for climbing at age 5, when he began climbing for fun at his local Lifetime Fitness in Dallas. By 9, his talent was apparent and he joined the elite Dallas-based Team Texas competitive club.

In 2021 at just 15 years old, Watson broke a national age-group record and qualified for the U.S. youth national team. That same year, he captured silver at the Youth B World Championships in Voronezh, Russia.

He continued his rise in 2022, winning bronze at the Youth A World Championships in Dallas. Later that year, Watson made his name in the record books again, becoming the first American to win International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Cup gold medals in both Lead and Speed. In the IFSC World Cup Salt Lake City, he became 8th in general result speed men. He complete 2022 by winning the U.S. National Speed Climbing Championship.

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In 2023, he recorded top 5 finishes at 3 elite World Cup events, placing 4th at both the IFSC World Cup Villars and IFSC World Cup Salt Lake City meets. At the IFSC World Cup Wujiang competition, Watson finished 7th. And made more history at the Pan American Games in Santiago, capturing the gold medal in men’s speed climbing -and qualifying himself for the 2024 Paris Olympics in the process.

“I hugged my mom so hard with my hand that I pinched a nerve in my left forearm. I was crying, it was a big emotional moment,”

Watson says