SAN DIEGO — Brooke Raboutou can officially call herself an Olympian. The University of San Diego sophomore became the first U.S. athlete to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo summer games in the new discipline of indoor sport climbing.
After making history in her sport, 18-year-old Raboutou admits she’s still in a bit of shock.
“I think its definitely always been a dream of mine,” she said. “I feel like I’ve said it before but in climbing, there’s so many different forms that I have a lot of dreams in climbing but that’s definitely one of them and to see it come true is just amazing.”
The Boulder, Colorado native qualified in August after an exceptional performance at the world championships in Japan. With more than 11 months to go until the opening ceremony, she can now focus solely on her training.
“For me the biggest training in climbing, is just climbing,” Raboutou said. “Doing a lot of boulders, ropes and practice but as well as that, you can do little things like finger training, which we do on hang boards like hanging or with weight or even two arms.”
Climbing runs in the Raboutou family. Both her parents were accomplished climbers with seven world championship titles between them and her older brother, who is also an accomplished climber.
“My mom is a coach and owns a business, ABC Kids Climbing is the team and she’s the head coach and runs the facility and my dad is an architect as well as he helps coach the mental aspect of climbing,” Raboutou said. “It’s definitely a special thing. Not many families have that shared passion that we do.”
The Olympic format features three combined disciplines: speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing. The results are then multiplied together and the lowest score wins.
“I think that I’m pretty average [or] decent in all three of them, which is why I think that I did so well at the world championships, especially because a lot of people are really good at two of them and then a lot of people lack in speed because it’s a newer addition to the combined format,” Raboutou said.
Only 40 climbers in the world, 20 of each gender with no more than two per country, can compete in Tokyo — a rare opportunity Raboutou looks forward to.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “I feel like everyday it sinks in a little more but I can’t wait to represent my country and be at the games with my team.”