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Brooke Raboutou Makes History As First-Ever American Climber To Qualify For An Olympic Games

By Brandon Penny | Aug. 18, 2019, 11:05 a.m. (ET)


When Brooke Raboutou entered the world, it was clear she was born to climb.

Her parents, Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou and Didier Raboutou, were both multiple-time climbing world cup champions, with her older brother Shawn also a skilled climber. Her family was called “the climbing equivalent of The Incredibles” in an article by Climbing magazine last year.

What wasn’t known at the time, however, was that she was also born to be an Olympian.

Almost three decades after the sport had its first Olympic aspirations, the International Olympic Committee voted to add climbing to the program for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in August 2016.

On Sunday night in Hachioji, Japan, when climbers had their first opportunity to earn spots at the Tokyo 2020 Games, Brooke Raboutou was among them, making history for her sport.

The 18-year-old finished ninth in the combined qualification round at the IFSC Climbing World Championships. Raboutou was sixth-fastest in the speed round, and seventh- and 10th-best in lead and bouldering.

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The Boulder, Colorado, native began climbing as soon as she could walk, was competing at a high level at age 7, and at 11 became the youngest person in the world to climb 5.14b. Raboutou is the 2018 lead youth (17-18) world champion, 2016 combined youth (15-16) world champion and 2017 combined youth (17-18) Pan American champion. Earlier this year, she was named to the first-ever U.S. overall national team.

Combined is the sole medal event for Tokyo 2020; athletes will compete in speed, bouldering and lead, with their placement based on results from all three. Traditionally, climbers specialize in one or two of the three disciplines and compete in them separately on the world cup circuit.

The field in Tokyo will feature 20 athletes per gender with a maximum of two per country, and the first seven were to come from the 2019 world championships. Five of those first athletes to provisionally qualify for an Olympic Games in climbing are Great Britain’s Shauna Coxsey (42 points), Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret (112), Switzerland’s Petra Klingler (288), Poland’s Aleksandra Miroslaw (390) and Raboutou (420).The top eight athletes from qualification move on to the finals, where two quotas will be awarded to either Japan's Akiyo Noguchi, Ai Mori, Futaba Ito and/or Miho Nonaka.

Men’s combined qualification will be held Monday, with Team USA’s Nathaniel Coleman and Drew Ruana competing.

Athletes will have two more opportunities to qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Climbing Team at this fall's Olympic Qualifying Event and next year's continental championships.

The International Federation of Sport Climbing will confirm the quota spots earned in Hachioji in writing to National Olympic Committees within five days of the world championships.

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Brooke Raboutou