Rock climbing is rarely atop the list of mainstream sports when people talk about the Olympics. That could start to change this summer when Brooke Raboutou takes center stage for her first Olympic appearance as the sport makes its Olympic debut.
The 20-year-old Raboutou has grown a massive following on social media, with nearly 200,000 Instagram followers. Raboutou was the first American climber to qualify for the Olympics in sport climbing, which makes her presence in Tokyo especially notable.
Raboutou’s hometown is appropriately named
It’s impossible to think of a better city for a climber to be from than Boulder, Colo. Raboutou’s sport quite literally involves climbing large rocks. She was born and raised in Boulder, attending Fairview High School in the city before graduating in 2018.
Get Southern California news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC LA newsletters.
Climbing runs in the Raboutou family
Raboutou’s parents were both world champion climbers. Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou was a four-time world champion, winning the World Cup each year from 1992 through 1995. She was one of the leaders in a sport that wasn’t as popular for women at that time, and was inducted into the Boulder Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.
Brooke’s father Didier Raboutou was a French climber during the 1980s as the sport began to gain notoriety. Brooke’s older brother, Shawn, is also an accomplished climber.
Robyn and Didier later became the owners of a gym called ABC Kids Climbing in Boulder. With coaching from the Raboutou family, young climbers -- including Brooke -- are able to learn the basics and intricacies of the sport. There are different levels of teams, various camp sessions and more throughout the year.
Raboutou started climbing as soon as she could walk
When your parents are world champions, it makes sense that they would start you out at a young age. She started climbing at just 2 years old, practicing on structures that her father built. And instead of taking normal family vacations, the Raboutous took climbing trips. The family would return to Didier’s native France every summer to climb.
At 11, Brooke became the youngest person in the world to climb 5.14b -- one of the more difficult climbs, according to the Yosemite Decimal System. She has only continued her rise through the sport in recent years, and it all started when she could barely walk.
Raboutou qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2019
Watch all the action from the Tokyo Games Live on NBC
Climbing is new to the Olympics this year, as 40 athletes (20 male, 20 female) will compete. Raboutou made history when she became the United States’ first athlete to qualify in the sport. She punched her ticket to Tokyo by placing ninth at the world championships in Hachioji, Japan, in August of 2019.
Kyra Condie, Nathaniel Coleman and Colin Duffy will join Raboutou in representing Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics.
Raboutou’s following has created various sponsorship opportunities
Like many Olympic athletes, Raboutou has capitalized on her opportunity ahead of this summer. In the last several months she has revealed partnerships with adidas, Ford Bronco and Chipotle. Raboutou was featured in a commercial for Ford Bronco in May of 2021. In June, Chipotle added Raboutou’s go-to bowl as one of their menu items.
Raboutou is clearly among the most rapidly growing athletes, and her profile should only grow after her Olympic debut in 2021.