As a sports mad eight-year-old,Tom O'Halloran had a glimpse of an Olympic dream while watching Sydney 2000 on a friend's TV in Winfield, a tiny town north of Bundaberg, Queensland.
"I remember sitting on the floor watching it and thinking 'Oh my gosh I'd never seen people that excited unless they've caught a big fish'."
He realised then he wanted to represent Australia.
"My parents drove me around south-east Queensland [competing], I played every sport, but was never quite good enough to be an Olympian ... and then I found climbing."
At age 12, he was disappointed to discover that the elite level of competition wasn't possible in his chosen sport, but he loved it and the outdoors and decided to let the dream go. And then the stars aligned when Tokyo included sports climbing in their 2020 games.
"When climbing was announced. I was psyched to finally realise that dream. I knew I'd have to figure out a way to make it happen," he said.
The 26-year-old champion Blackheath climber is known to Australians after finding fame with a second place finish in the first Australian Ninja Warrior TV series. Amongst the climbing community he has an international profile, having competed alongside the world's top athletes at the World Youth Championships and climbing up to grade 35 in Australia.
"I feel like I'm at my prime. It's not everyday you get to try to be an Olympian."
The extra challenge for Tokyo 2020 for climbers is that they must excel in bouldering, lead and speed to make the final cut - three different disciplines of climbing. Only two athletes per nation will go through.
But O'Halloran is in a good position. He took out top place in the 2017 Bouldering Nationals (he was sick last year) and third place in the 2018 Lead Nationals. He came first earlier this year in the NSW Lead event.
"It's very difficult [to do all three]. Usually most people are kind of specialised in speed climbing, lead climbing or bouldering. I'm good at lead and bouldering and I'm training my butt off for speed."
For Olympic contention, the Scenic World maintenance worker needs to compete in numerous events on the international circuit to build his experience before the Australian National Climbing Championships next March, when the strongest male and female will be chosen for Australia.
"The lead World Cup season starts in July in Europe and finishes in October in China. The World Championships are being held in Japan in August. I would ideally love to go to as many of these events as possible."
He has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help with flights and accommodation. Sharing that journey is dietitian partner Amanda Watts, also an elite climber, and their daughter Audrey, 5.
"It's hard to strike a balance of parenting, working, climbing and realising the Olympic dream. You can't just turn up to world-class events and expect to perform - you have to put in time to train because you can't fake experience when you're competing."
In the first two weeks, about 50 people had ensured the tally had reached $3397 of the $5000 goal.
On the crowdfunding page he writes: "There are so many people who need support in the world, so it feels uncomfortable raising money for an Olympic dream, but the support is needed ... and I would love to share the journey with you."
To help him, go to https://www.gofundme.com/tom-o039halloran-olympic-selection-campaign
"I'd love to make it to the semi finals [this month] in Japan. I've never done one of those big international events. If I go well ... there's more sponsorship opportunities, which could create some momentum."
The Olympic qualifiers are at year's end.
He is posting about his journey on instagram @tom_ohalloran.
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