American Brooke Raboutou’s smile lit the Esforta Arena Hachioji today after claiming her first ever IFSC Boulder World Cup gold medal.

Raboutou was head and shoulders above her competition in Hachioji, Japan, gaining confidence every time she climbed. The USA climber topped three boulders and hit four zones in the final with her closest rival only managing a single top.

Germany’s Hannah Meul was that rival, and she claimed the silver ahead of the home nation favourite Matsufuji Anon who took bronze.

The final was contested by six athletes who had never won an IFSC Boulder World Cup so a new gold medallist was guaranteed. In fact, the last 17 IFSC World Cup Boulder events have been won by either USA’s Natalia Grossman or Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret and you have to go back to IFSC World Cup Vail 2018 to find another winner when Alex Puccio of USA won gold.

In disbelief of her maiden gold, Raboutou said: “It’s crazy. I feel a lot. It hasn’t really sunk. I knew I had one when I topped the last boulder, but even then, I was like ‘are you sure?’. Most of all I just feel thankful and really happy with my climbing today.”

Well known through the climbing community, Raboutou’s family are a big influence, and she becomes the second generation to claim a World Cup gold after mum Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou: “I called my parents and they are very, very happy. My mum just told me she was really proud of me, but I feel that every day with them anyway. 

“As much as winning a World Cup was a big dream for me, I had to thank my parents because they got me here and they get me up the wall.”

The only other athlete to top a finals Boulder, Meul, was excited not only for her podium finish, but what lies ahead in the coming months: “It’s amazing. I’m super happy to start the season like this. It’s definitely the best start. I had the perfect mixture of being nervous, but also confident in my climbing and what I am capable of.”

Despite the happiness picking up a medal, there was also a touch of sadness and reflection as she celebrated the life of teammate Christoph Schweiger who dies recently in a road traffic accident: “This competition was the hardest emotionally. The most important thing in this competition was to carry my teammate Christoph Schweiger in my heart. 

“He was supposed to be here to climb and show what he could do. So, it was important to enjoy this gift that we have to be here and climb. The love we have and all share for climbing is something that cannot die, so I wanted to chase that spirit for him. He gave me a lot of power in the end.”

Rounding out the podium was Anon who gave the cheering home crowd a greater opportunity to raise their voice when it was confirmed she would leave Hachioji with a World Cup bronze. 

In fourth place was Ayala Kerem from Israel who secured her best ever IFSC World Cup Boulder finish. China’s Luo Zhilu finished in fifth with Mia Krampl of Slovenia in sixth.

IFSC World Cup Hachioji 2023 will finish tomorrow (Sunday 23 April) with the men’s Boulder semi-final at 11:00 (UTC+9:00) and final at 17:00 (UTC+9:00).

230422 IFSC News Raboutou claims first ever IFSC Boulder World Cup goldWomen's Boulder podium at IFSC World Cup
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