San Diego to Tokyo

Former USD Student Climbs Toward Olympic History

Former USD student will be competing in the brand-new event of Sport Climbing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

NBC Universal, Inc.

A former University of San Diego student is hoping to be among the first athletes in the world to climb onto the Olympic podium in Tokyo this summer in a brand new event.

Brooke Raboutou will be just 20 years old when she makes her Olympic debut in “Sport Climbing," which is also making its Olympic debut this summer. And, she is already one of the sport’s biggest names.

"People say I was born into it, which is kind of true," Raboutou said.

She is the daughter of former professional and internationally acclaimed climbers, so rock climbing is in her DNA.

Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, it became her passion too.

Brooke Raboutou with chalked hands
Steven Luke/NBC 7
Sport Climber Brooke Raboutou shows off her strong hands

"I've been doing it since I was 2. I remember we had a little wall in our basement," said Raboutou. “We went on climbing trips for vacation, I didn't go to beaches."

Blessed with the physical tools to quickly scale huge walls like a real-life Spiderwoman, Raboutou works hard to strengthen her grip, often focusing on individual fingers through specific drills which occasionally come in handy in the real world.

"You know, the salsa is tight. I'm like 'OK, I'll get it," Raboutou said.

But, it's her mental game that gives her the biggest advantage in a sport where failing and falling go together. Determination could be her biggest strength.

Fight as hard as you can

Brooke Raboutou

During her pre-COVID practice sessions inside Mission Valley’s Mesa Rim Climbing Center, Rabatou could often be seen off by herself working on specific steps that gave her problems.

Climbers would often watch in awe as she fell, walked away from the wall, sat down and visualized success over and over again until she accomplished her goal.

"When I'm doing my best, I just think about each individual move and the present moment and stuff like that,” said Raboutou. “Fight as hard as you can."

Last year she stepped away from her studies at the University of San Diego just before the pandemic hit to move home and focus on climbing.

When COVID-19 shut down facilities, she made the most of it by climbing around her house, taking Instagram videos, which became original social media hits garnering hundreds of thousands of views.

This year's Olympics in Tokyo, Japan are going to be different, with fewer spectators, restrictions on shouting and a more socially distanced torch relay. But the joy of the celebration is much needed after the world weathered a frightening pandemic, Keir Simmons, senior international correspondent for TODAY, explains.

Raboutou secured her spot on Team USA back in the summer of 2019 but at such a young age, and with so much talent, time is on her side.

Sport Climbing will be a combination event at the Olympics with three separate categories comprised of speed, bouldering, and lead events.

Competitions will take place between August 2nd and 5.

Brooke Raboutou, Olympic rock climber.
Brooke Raboutou, Olympic rock climber.
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