Campbell Harrison will compete at the Olympics in sport climbing. | Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Image

Name: Campbell Harrison
Country: Australia
Sport: Sport climbing
Previous Olympic experience: None
Social Media: Instagram

Who is Campbell Harrison?

Campbell Harrison, 26, is an Australian sport climber who punched his ticket to Paris by winning the boulder and lead events at the Oceania Olympics trials in November. This is the second time the sport will be contested at the Olympics.

Harrison has been an advocate for more LGBTQ climbers and queer visibility in general, a theme he focused on in a 2023 essay for Outsports:

“I had so few real, tangible and relatable examples of queer people leading successful lives that I think I internalized some kind of notion of queer inferiority. Had I only known of all the incredible queer people who were out there thriving in all manner of athletic, creative and professional pursuits, then perhaps I would have been able to take ownership of my own identity sooner. Perhaps sharing who I was with the people I cared about wouldn’t have carried with it so much guilt and shame.

“Future generations of young people within the Australian climbing community would have at least one queer person to look up to and show them that life opens its doors to you when you quit shying away from it.”

When Harrison clinched his Olympics spot, he did something that we’ve seen a million times with opposite-sex couples but less so from same-sex partners: He shared a kiss with his boyfriend.

“From what I could see, every other athlete who qualified whose partner was there, kissed their partner on the live stream, so it was very common,” Harrison said.

“But when it’s two men, it catches attention for sure! And that can be a good and powerful thing.

“I’m glad all the feedback that I’ve seen has been positive. But it’s interesting how this one really caught people’s eye — the same-sex couple.”

Campbell Harrison at the Paris Olympics

Since this is only the second time the Olympics will feature sport climbing, it’s hard to look at past history as a guide to how competitors will fare. Harrison is ranked 43rd in the world in boulder and lead, 55th in lead, 63rd in boulder. He is not ranked in speed.

Here are the official rules for sport climbing:

At the Olympics, sport climbing involves three formats : bouldering, speed and lead. In bouldering, athletes climb 4.5 m high walls without ropes, in a limited period of time and in the fewest attempts possible. Speed is a spectacular race against the clock in one-on-one elimination rounds that combine precision and explosivity. The best athletes scale a 15-meter (49 feet) high and 5 degrees inclinated wall in under six seconds for men and under seven seconds for women.

In the lead event, athletes climb as high as they can on a wall over 15-meter high in six minutes without having seen the route ahead of time. The routes for this event are more and more complex and challenging during the event, requiring all of the athletes’ physical and mental ability.

In Paris 2024, two competitions will crown their own Olympic champion in sport climbing. One will be a combined competition of bouldering and lead events, and the second one will only feature a speed event.

Paris 2024

There were no out LGBTQ climbers in Tokyo, so Harrison is already a trailblazer, an honor he takes seriously.

“Competing as a queer athlete, I always hope that I can show other young queer climbers that being gay doesn’t have to be a barrier to participation in sport, but we can also be the best if we set our mind to it,” he said.