BEN Abel was barely a teenager when he first walked into Pulse at Adamstown.
He hasn't stopped climbing since.
The boy from Belmont now dreams of representing Australia at the Olympics in Tokyo next year.
"It's amazing that it [sport climbing] is an Olympic sport and it [the Games] would be amazing to be apart of," Abel told the Newcastle Herald.
The now 20-year-old dropped out of school before undergoing his Higher School Certificate studies, soon after he discovered sport climbing would debut at the 2020 Games.
It was a life changing moment for Abel, who said "everything I do now is for climbing".
Primarily trying to master three climbing disciplines - speed, lead and bouldering - at once to feature in the combined Olympic event.
"I prefer bouldering, but to go to the Olympics you've got to do all three," he said.
Abel's currently in Japan for the IFSC World Championships and it comes on the back of recently setting a national men's speed record of 8.567 seconds up the standardised 15 metre indoor wall at World Cup competition in Europe.
"I had some foot slips, so I know I can go faster," he said.
The best sport climbing performers in Hachioji this month earn seven of 20 Olympic spots.
If unsuccessful Abel would turn his attention to the Oceania Championships in Australia in April, but only one Games position will be available.
"It's nice to know I've got time to work on weaknesses and get stronger," the second of four siblings said.
He wants to focus on remaining uninjured after one of his fingers suffered tendon damage from a pulley almost 12 months ago.
Abel, who mainly trains in Sydney but does strength and conditioning in Newcastle, finds himself on an unexpected career path.
"It's not something I had in mind," he said. "I thought I'd grow up and be an architect or something like that, not be an athlete in sport."
Abel, who "always wears happy socks" when preparing, recalls his maiden climbing experience.
"The gym [Pulse] in Newcastle opened up and I went to the open day and never stopped going," he said. "I was 13 or 14 and I was the first person to walk in the door. We saw it in the paper - dad showed me and I wanted to go and check it out."
Around the same time Abel began watching World Cup events via YouTube and "two years later I was at the same competition".
Speed climbing is simply the fastest person to reach a set target on a 15m wall.
Lead climbing is more endurance than explosive, with participants getting six minutes to ascend as high as possible on a 15m wall.
Bouldering is more tactical and without rope or harness, scaling as many routes to the large, rounded 4m top as possible during the allotted time period.
Results averaged across all three sections will determine the Olympic medals. The sport will also feature at the Games in 2024.
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