Paris Olympics 2024 (Team USA): Meet Climber Sean Bailey

American professional rock climber Sean Bailey, 27, is skilled in bouldering, sport climbing, and competition climbing. He has two podium finishes in bouldering at individual World Cup legs and has competed for the United States in lead climbing in the IFSC Climbing World Cup. He is currently competing in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Early Life of Sean Bailey

Sean Bailey was born on May 20, 1996, in Shoreline, Washington, United States. Both of his parents were climbers. Climbing became a lifetime fascination for him after his dad started taking him.

Sean Bailey is in a Relationship

American rock climbing phenom Sean Bailey is currently in a relationship with Japanese bouldering specialist Miho Nonaka. The climbing couple often support each other’s achievements on the rock.

In 2021, Bailey acted as Nonaka’s mentor as she achieved a major milestone – her first ascent of an 8c+ route called “Mr. Hyde.” Nonaka credited Bailey in an Instagram post, writing:

“Thanks @steezybailey for all that you taught me. I’ve leaned a wide range of things from this trip.”

She posted
Sean Bailey Girlfriend Miho Nonaka
Image: Sean Bailey and his girlfriend Miho Nonaka (Source: Sean’s Instagram)

The send of Mr. Hyde marks significant progress for Nonaka, who said:

“As far as I can remember, 7c+ was the hardest grade I’ve done in outdoor sport climbing. So I guess I skipped a number grade?”

Nonaka added

Nonaka is an Olympic silver medalist in her own right. The 26-year-old from Tokyo specializes in competition bouldering and won silver in the debut combined event at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Sean Bailey is competing in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris

After missing qualification for the Tokyo Games by the slimmest of margins, Sean Bailey has firmly set his sights on representing USA Climbing at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

And he plans to arrive in Paris as a medal favorite across multiple disciplines.

He has proved himself as one of the world’s best in lead climbing, winning World Cup gold medals and ranking 2nd overall for the 2021 season.

Sean Bailey’s Climbing Career So Far

Sean Bailey’s Rapid Rise in Climbing

Bailey first began climbing at just 5 years old. He soon joined the youth team at Seattle’s famous Vertical World climbing gym.

By age 17, he captured gold in both bouldering and sport climbing at the USA Climbing Youth National Championships.

Bailey also set his sights on outdoor climbing feats considered the pinnacle for even top climbers. While still 17, he stunned the climbing world by sending Chris Sharma’s epic 5.15a route Realization/Biographie in France.

Over the next few years, Bailey continued ticking off 5.15 benchmarks across Europe and North America. He sent his second 5.15a at age 19 – Joe Mama in Spain’s Oliana sector. Bailey was keeping pace with climbers 10 years his senior at the upper echelons of sport climbing grades.

Professional Career as Reaching 9b+ Sport Climbing Level

As Bailey came into his peak competitive years in 2019-2020, his initial attempts at qualifying for the Olympics came up just short. He placed 9th at the 2019 World Qualifying Event, one spot out of the Games. And a 4th place finish at the 2020 PanAm Championships missed another chance to earn an Olympic spot.

In 2020, Bailey fired off ascent after ascent of benchmark problems. He sent his first V15 to Utah that spring. By fall, he managed two V16s – a rarely achieved grade – in just two months.

Also Read: Paris Olympics 2024 (Team USA): Noah Bratschi’s Chance to qualify for Paris 2024

The sends included highly-coveted lines like Box Therapy in Rocky Mountain National Park and Grand Illusion in Utah. Bailey also earned the 2nd ascent of a Jimmy Webb V14 called Transience for good measure.

While bouldering grades kept inching higher, Bailey refocused on sport climbing in 2021 with a lofty goal in mind – taking down his first 5.15c. He set his sights on Bibliographie in France’s Ceuse gorge, a stretch of overhanging limestone riddled with burly routes.

The line was originally established as a 9b+ by German wunderkind Alex Megos in 2020. But Bailey proved up to the challenge, joining Megos and Stefano Ghisolfi as one of three climbers to send Bibliographie.

Sean World Cup Podiums, and National Titles

In 2021, he burst onto the World Cup scene by winning gold in bouldering at the Salt Lake City event on home turf. He carried that momentum to Europe, capturing two more golds in lead climbing at World Cups in Villars and Chamonix, Switzerland.

His results earned Bailey a 2nd place ranking for the season in the Lead World Cup standings – a tremendous result in just his first full year on tour.

In 2022, Bailey backed up his breakout year with more hardware – a World Cup bronze in Chamonix. He has amassed an impressive 5 World Cup podiums before the age of 25.

Alongside his international success, Bailey has dominated the US pro climbing circuit as well. He earned national titles at the USA Climbing Lead Nationals in 2016, 2018 and 2022. A Bouldering National crown came in 2019 to round out his domestic resume.

With Paris 2024 fast approaching, expectations will be high for the young star to compete for Olympic medals on climbing’s biggest stage.

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