ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Sixteen years old and reaching new heights – an Alexandria teen has her eye on Gold for the 2020 Olympics. She knows the hard work it takes to get there and says right now, her focus is on the first feat: a Rock Climbing World Cup!
Smacking her hand in chalk, Ellie Sepulveda set herself on the wall. She took a deep breath.
Before you knew it, she was off scaling a 50-foot wall at Sport Rock, an indoor rock climbing facility in Alexandria, Va.
It’s called speed climbing.
This intense race will be in the 2020 Olympics.
“I’m training like I want to go to the Olympics. I’m training my hardest, but I’m more focused on improvement in my climbing ability,” said 16-year-old Sepulveda.
Her climbing ability has already gone international. She won at an October competition in China.
“I tried rock climbing at a summer camp. My friend kind-of dragged me into it and then, I tried. I got to the top and fell in love immediately,” said Sepulveda.
That was five years ago.
The teen says she practices at least 20 hours a week. She’s enrolled in George Washington University online high school, that’s how she’s able to get that much practice in.
When it comes to the work, no feat is too high. Seriously, that’s how she trains.
“I do a lot of strength training, so that’d be climbing routes that are above my limit that are too hard for me, to building up my finger strength and upper body strength,” said the 10th grader.
Even Sepulveda had a few falls on Monday.
“There’s a lot of moments when I climb a hard route, there’s that really amazing – you feel like you’ve accomplished something, so I try to remember all those highs,” she said.
On that some 50-foot wall (15 meters tall) Sepulveda said her best time is 11.2 seconds. She’s aiming for nine seconds.
Her parents got a good laugh in, telling WUSA9 Ellie beats her older brother every time.
Sepulveda will be headed to a USA climbing competition in mid-January. There, she says they pick two-three people to support on the World Cup Circuit. The goal is to help that climber qualify for the Olympics.