Drew Ruana Takes Aim at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

  • Written by Derek Johnson
When Drew Ruana used to walk the hallways of Woodinville High School, he was known as the climbing guy. “Yeah, some people would say `I play soccer’, or `I play football’”, Ruana said. “But I was like, `Oh I rock climb.’”
The 19-year old got his first taste of the sport when he was three years old. His dad Rudy took him on outings. Little Drew got a kick out of it.
RuanaWoodinville's Drew Ruana in action. (Photo by Tom Condie)
As the years progressed and he grew bigger, he couldn’t get enough of this sport.   
He was fifteen when it dawned on him that he could be something special. He traveled to New Caledonia, just off the coast of Australia. He was there to compete in the Youth World Championships.
“I ended up getting second place but should have won it,” Ruana said. “I made a mistake at the very end that resulted in me getting second. You see, the higher you get on the route the more points you get. Two feet from the end, my foot slipped and someone else got one hold passed me.”
Ruana returned home to the States. Now it was no hobby. He realized he could conceivably represent the USA. He began envisioning the Big Time.
Now in May 2019, the kid from Woodinville is a member of the U.S. Olympic Team. He’s soon heading for Vail, Colorado., for the next leg of the World Cup circuit in June. Ruana has been competing across the globe, from Germany to Switzerland, Russia and China, and of course Japan.
His trip to Tokyo intrigued him. 
“Tokyo was one of the coolest cities I’ve been to,” he said. “The climbing gyms there are incredible. Team Japan is dominating the World Cup Circuit right now. After going to Japan and training with them, the training facilities are so much better than what we have in the U.S. The way they train and the boulders they train on are so much better. [The boulders] mimic the style of the boulders we see in competition. We don’t see that in the US.“
Ruana graduated from Woodinville in 2018 and was accepted into the Colorado School of Mines. But the school is fine with him taking a two-year hiatus as he goes for his Olympic dream.
“The end goal is Tokyo 2020,” he said. “Right now I’m on the U.S. Olympic team. But in Tokyo there are only twenty spots in the entire world [for the Olympics]. There are no guaranteed spots for people. So right now we’re training for the World Cups, and then the World Championships are where you qualify for the Olympics.”
Ruana has received media attention. His team was filmed by ESPN and KING 5 TV did a feature on him. He also met the legendary climber Alex Honnald. 
“All the attention I’m receiving is an opportunity for me to explain the sport that I do,” Ruana said. “And after Tokyo, I can’t wait to see how climbing explodes in popularity.”
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