When Brooke Raboutou qualified for the finals in women’s sport climbing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she already proved herself among the best climbers in the world. During the medal round on Friday, the Boulder native went head to head with the best of the best and finished fifth as she continues her upward trajectory in the sport.
Slovenia’s Janja Ganbret, the greatest female climber in the world currently, walked away with gold as two Japanese athletes, Nonaka Miho and Noguchi Akiyo, claimed silver and bronze, respectively.
Raboutou faltered early in speed climbing and needed to make great strides in the bouldering piece of the three-event sport climbing finals in Tokyo.
The 20-year-old Fairview High School graduate had finished seventh of eight in the earlier speed climbing portion of the event and hoped to improve her standings in the second installment of the five-hour competition.
Luckily, her strength lay in literal strength, as she normally excels in the upper-body centric climbs.
Bouldering, which involves timed attempts on four different, difficult obstacle walls — known as problems — challenges the athletes mentally, physically and strategically. Each competitor scores points based on her ability to ascend to the zone — the midway point — or to the top of the short, tetherless problem.
Raboutou came tantalizingly close to topping out on the first problem, which she would have achieved if she had placed both hands on the top handhold while staying steady. She managed to get both hands on the handhold before losing control of her legs. She fell just short of the ultimate goal that only one other athlete, Garnbret, achieved on the first problem.
That performance skyrocketed her to third place in bouldering with two problems and the lead climbing event remaining. She nearly conquered the second, highly-angled second problem as well, but she ran out of time before she could get a handle on the top handhold. Nobody before her had gotten that close, at least not until Garnbret started her ascent. The heavy gold medal favorite won the bouldering competition outright when she topped out on the second problem with one to spare.
The third problem focused on dangling upper body strength and proved too difficult for nearly all of the athletes, save three: Nonaka, Garnbret and Raboutou. The Japanese athlete nudged her way into second place by hitting the zone first, but Raboutou took back over on her later attempt that accomplished just the same. Not even Garnbret could defeat problem three.
Raboutou’s dominance on the bouldering portion of the sport vaulted her to second place in that event, with an optimal fifth-place position heading into the third and final discipline: lead climbing.
Lead climbing focuses on endurance on a tall, challenging wall and scores are calculated by the number of moves that an athlete can manage while trying to climb as high as she can in six minutes. Raboutou only managed 20-plus moves on the lead wall, which allowed Noguchi and Poland’s Aleksandra Miroslaw to edge ahead of her.
While Raboutou just barely missed out on a medal, there’s little doubt that she’ll return for another Olympic Games in the future, maybe two. She’s certainly been trending in the right direction as, in the 2021 World Cup season alone, she made the podium in both bouldering and lead climbing.
Monarch’s Godby ends Olympic run in track cycling sprints
On her third day of Olympic competition, Monarch graduate Madalyn Godby tried her luck in the sprint event of track cycling, which takes place on a tilted track called a velodrome. The 28-year-old out of Louisville finished 20th in the qualifying round of the sprint with a 10.869 second time and average speed of 66.243 kph.
That put her squarely inside the top 24 qualifiers to go into the 1/32 finals, where she went head-to-head with Canada’s Lauriane Genest and lost by a hair — just 0.121 seconds. Next came the 1/32 repechage, or consolation round. Godby stormed back from the brink of elimination to defeat Korea’s Lee Hye-jin and the Russian Olympic Committee’s Daria Shmeleva in a thrilling finish as she beat them out by 0.054 and 0.057 seconds, respectively.
She advanced to the 1/16 finals, where she faced off with Germany’s Lea Sophie Friedrich and fell by 0.391 seconds. Godby ended her Olympic run in the 1/16 repechage round when Hong Kong’s Lee Wai-sze outpaced her by 0.168 seconds.