Two North Americans Qualify for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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Brooke Raboutou - photo Eddie Fowke
Brooke Raboutou - photo Eddie Fowke
Photo: Eddie Fowke / IFSC

History was recently made at the IFSC World Championships in Hachioji, Japan, as 18-year-old Brooke Raboutou (USA) and 31-year-old Sean McColl (CAN) became the first ever North American and Canadian climbers to qualify for an Olympic Games. McColl and Raboutou were among six men and six women to provisionally earn a berth to the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo, taking place next summer.

The other competitors in the women’s field who provisionally qualified for the 2020 Olympics include Great Britain’s Shauna Coxsey, Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret, Switzerland’s Petra Klingler, Poland’s Aleksandra Miroslaw and Austria’s Jessica Pilz. In the men’s field, Germany’s Alexander Megos, Austria’s Jakob Schubert, Kazakhstan’s Rishat Khaibullin, France’s Mickael Mawem and Italy’s Ludovico Fossali qualified as well. Four athletes from Japan will also receive berths at the IFSC World Championships, following the conclusion of the event later this week.

Raboutou, a native of Boulder, Colorado, and a product of the training at ABC Kids Climbing, has been a well-known name in competitions from a young age. Born to decorated competitors Didier Raboutou and Robyn Erbesfield, Brooke Raboutou quickly carved out an identity of her own with victories on the national and international circuit. Most recently, she won a youth world championship in lead climbing last year and earned a spot on the American Overall National Team earlier this year. She has also been active on the IFSC’s World Cup circuits.

McColl is a 3-time combined world champion and 2-time combined world cup season champion. Competing on the international circuit since 2001, McColl is a veteran athlete who has won multiple IFSC World Cup events and is currently ranked 8th in the world in lead climbing.

Sean McColl - photo Eddie Fowke
Photo: Eddie Fowke / IFSC

At the IFSC World Championships, McColl and Raboutou’s Olympic berth came as a result of their performances in the qualifying round of the “combined” discipline. The discipline multiplies scores from separate speed, bouldering and lead portions. Raboutou placed 6th in speed climbing, 10th in bouldering and 7th in lead for an overall placement of 9th. McColl placed 18th in speed, 15th in bouldering and 3rd in lead to finish in 10th place overall. A cap of two men and two women per country receiving the Olympic invitations — and an abundance of Japanese competitors—meant that Olympic slots ultimately went to McColl and Raboutou.

Soon after, Raboutou wrote on her Instagram, “In a few days I should get a letter with my ticket to the 2020 olympics!!!”

“I have had the dream of going to the Olympics since before I can remember; that becoming a reality now, in the sport of climbing that I love so dearly is just…unbelievable,” wrote McColl on his Instagram.

McColl and Raboutou’s Olympic qualification leaves at most three spots for the USA and three spots for Canada on the Tokyo 2020 roster. The next competitions with Olympic qualification implications will take place in Toulouse, France, in November, with Continental Championships around the world to follow next year. A total of 20 athletes per gender will eventually take part in climbing at the 2020 Olympics.