TJ Foley a 19-year-old climber from Kimberley, is heading to Seoul on Aug. 15 to compete in the 2023 Youth World Championships.
Foley, whose father Tim is superintendent at the Purcell Golf Course in Kimberley, was there on Wednesday, Aug. 9, raising funds for his trip by selling raffle tickets to win an $800 TaylorMade driver to golfers on the first tee box.
This is Foley’s first trip to this particular corner of the globe, but by no means his first experience travelling to pursue his passion.
“My first time out of Canada was to Moscow in 2018, and then 2019 was Italy for me, then COVID happened,” Foley said. “Last year I was down in Dallas. I’ve done lots of little trips, lots of Montreal, Toronto, I was just in Colorado a couple months ago.”
While it’s not his first time travelling to climb, it is his first time doing so on his own.
“I’m travelling by myself, but I get to roommate with some great friends from all across Canada,” he said. “There’s the coaches there for me and then I get to kind of do my own thing there.”
This two-week trip to South Korea will consist of a lot of training, a lot of competing, plus plenty of cheering on his teammates and opportunities to socialize and make new friends from around the world.
Foley has climbed for nine years now, getting his start at the then freshly built Spirit Rock Climbing Centre in downtown Kimberley. He now trains out of ARQ Mountain Centre in Cranbrook with his coach Gordon McArthur, a bit of a local legend in climbing around the Kootenays.
“He’s been with me for a long time as well, he’s travelled with me,” Foley said. “He’s quite a crazy guy, he’s definitely helped me out big time.”
Foley grew up with golf in his family, but his first sport was gymnastics.
“I used to do gymnastics when I was a kid and [climbing] just came super naturally, same muscles,” Foley said. “So I said ‘OK, this is going to be my life for the next 10 years.’
“So here I am, I’ve been going at it very hard. Every week I do spend probably 15 hours a week training, it’s been great.”
In terms of his ultimate goal for his climbing career, Foley said he has his eyes set on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
His dad Tim said the family are all very proud of him, while perhaps just a little bit nervous seeing him travel by himself for the first time.
“His sister has got to go with him to Moscow, went to Italy with him and he’s going solo on this one, so we’re nervous but we’re excited he gets to go, it’s really fun,” he said.
In addition to selling raffle tickets at the golf course, Foley also has a GoFundMe set up with a target to raise $2,000. You can support his pursuit here: gofund.me/4a3edfb4
“I think growing up in a small town has helped me more with climbing, compared to the big city,” Foley said. “I’ve gotten crazy support from everyone, it’s been amazing for all my years of climbing, so I just appreciate that big time.”