Pro-File: Sierra Blair-Coyle

This competitive climber gives a whole new meaning to the term “Girls rock!”

May 8, 2013
Pro-File: Sierra Blair-Coyle

Sierra Blair-Coyle, 19, was the youngest competitive rock climber to qualify for the World Cup in 2010, and just last year placed seventh in the American Bouldering Series Nationals. Now, with climbing under consideration for the 2020 Olympics, she’s definitely one to watch.

Tell us about competitive climbing.
"Competitive climbing is an up-and-coming sport. It’s judged in two ways: speed and height of climb. For example, say you have four walls to climb. Whoever climbs the highest on all four is the winner."

When did you start?
"When I was 8. There was an outdoor mall near my house that had a wall, and I wanted to try it because it looked like so much fun—I couldn’t wait to reach the top. Eventually, I went to a gym and joined the team. That was the beginning. My dream is to climb in the Rocklands in South Africa. The area is absolutely beautiful!"

How do you prepare for a competition?
"I train for months beforehand. I work out for two days, then take a rest day, and so on. On the days I’m working out, I complete three separate workouts. My first is an hour of cardio and weightlifting; my second is a two-hour climbing practice; and my third is another hour of weightlifting. When you climb, your back and arms get really strong—my weakness is my shoulders, and I also need to get my legs stronger. We do core as well."

Do you have to follow any specific diet plan?
"I have a lot of food allergies, gluten and dairy being the main ones, and I have a slight soy allergy. So my diet is really all about protein—lean meats—plus vegetables and some whole grains. I’m a big protein person, I love eating meat. Rock climb- ing is definitely a weight- dependent sport, but that’s not my focus. I focus on increasing my strength as opposed to lowering my weight."

Do you notice more people getting interested in the sport?
"Yes, climbing’s one of the fastest-growing sports. The possibility of it being in the Olympics is helping. Right now it’s a more male-dominated sport, but there are still tons of women doing it—and no matter whether you’re male or female, everyone’s equal."