I am not an “OG” CrossFitter. I am far, far from it. I tried CrossFit for the first time in late 2010 so I am into my sixth CrossFit year. I feel like I have been in this sport forever because of the tremendous growth I have witnessed since I first became involved.
During my 6 years in this sport with not only experience as a coach and fan but also as a 2-time individual competitor at the Games I have seen a bit of a shift in the athletes, the personalities and motivations of the competitors within the sport. When I qualified for the games for the first time in 2013 I cried a ton.
I did not cry because I had proved that I was good at fitness.
I did not cry because I was afraid of failure.
I did not cry because I had made my family proud.
I cried because I had officially beaten the odds. I had proven to myself that I was stronger than the seemingly devastating injury that I had endured. I cried because this was my chance to change the world in a small way. I cried because I had worked so hard to regain strength in my broken back. I cried because I qualified despite a world full of people telling me that this accomplishment was not possible for “someone like me”.
I cried because this was my “why“.
This phenomenon of having a “why” for your training is something that you will mostly see across the board with Games athletes. We all have a reason. We have something that we are fighting for – something that is fueling us. Something that is so much bigger than just being “good”. Over the last couple years I have really had the opportunity to get to know these athletes – and learn their stories and their “whys”. There are those who have overcome addictions, those who are proving to a child left behind that life doesn’t end when someone walks out the door, those who are proving that a “disability” is not disabling. These athletes are strong in their lifts in the gym – but they are even stronger as role models and people – because of their “whys”.
With the evolution of the sport I have started to see a little shift in some of the newer athletes and the passion that they are bringing to the competitions. With the “fame” of the sport growing and the increase not only in the prize money at the Games but also the global attention, the last thing I want to see is athletes and fans losing sight of what makes this sport so great. The reason we love watching and cheering for the athletes is because they are relatable and truly put themselves out there for what they believe in. None of the athletes you see that are making the Games for multiple years are doing it because they want Instagram followers. Most of them are not doing it because it’s paying the bills. There will be some athletes that make it for those reasons but you can bet that they won’t be back. They won’t make it multiple years and they will fade out.
Almost every athlete you see at the Games qualified because they believe in and are competing for a greater “why”. They are fighting for something bigger than themselves. I cannot think of any other sport that this could be said of its most famous athletes.
I am extremely proud to be one of these athletes. I am going to continue to fight for my “why” every time I step into the gym, on a competition floor or into the Soccer or Tennis stadium at the Games. This fight for me continues daily and will not end at the closing of a competition. It will continue when I no longer compete.
As you start watching during these next few weekends of Regionals remember that those who qualify for the next level are strong, sexy, amazing and extremely fit, yes – but they are also husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons that are fighting SO HARD for something that has nothing to do with muscle-ups. Their motivation. Their “why”. They are just genuine athletes and I can’t wait to watch them achieve their dreams of standing on that podium after battling all weekend long. I can’t wait to see the genuine emotion on their faces and I can’t wait to be one of them again.