CrossFit Games

Forget Madison: CrossFitters setting their sights on becoming Olympians

August 15, 2019 by
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There’s no rest for the wicked with many athletes returning home from Madison and straight into training for the 2020 season. Yes, the Open is just two months away, but several athletes won’t even make it a fortnight before competing again, qualifying for the International Functional Fitness Federation World Championships (IFFF WC) in Sweden at the end of August. 

Jessica Coughlan from team Project X is one of them: “I returned home, I was straight back into my normal training routine and nutrition. The specific tests have been released for the IFFF WC so my training has been tailored around those movements and workouts.”

Jess isn’t the only Games athlete venturing into the “functional fitness” space. 2013 CrossFit Games Champion Samantha Briggs won the IFFF World Championship last year and the likes of Meredith Root, Emma McQuaid and Zach Sowder will also head to Sweden to compete later this month. 

“It’s another way to use and test my fitness,” Coughlan told the Morning Chalk Up. “I spend so much of my life training, you really need to grasp every opportunity to put it on show.”

“It’s another way to use and test my fitness. I spend so much of my life training, you really need to grasp every opportunity to put it on show.”

— Jess Coughlan

What is “Functional Fitness?”

The competition will test six fitness components – endurance, bodyweight skill, bodyweight endurance, strength, mixed modal and power.

Unlike the CrossFit Games though, each of the components are tested in an individual workout slightly removing the ‘unknown and unknowable’ aspect. For example, the “bodyweight test” is a mix of handstand walks, pistols and burpee ring muscle ups – no barbell until the power component of the competition. 

We’ve touched on this before, but ultimately CrossFit is a brand, where functional fitness is defined as a sport. 

That’s why the International Function Federation (IF3) was established in the first place, to have the sport officially recognized and eventually allow athletes to compete at the Olympic Games.

Jessica Coughlan and Team Project X at the 2019 CrossFit Games Source: Ant Luci

When will that happen? 

Gretchen Kittelberger is the President of the IF3 and said the sport first has to be recognized by The Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). That application process is well underway. 

“They have some internal meetings later this fall, so we are hopeful we will have further information about our application after those meetings,” she said. 

“The sport started in California, so to be able to bring it to the Olympics for the first time back in its home state would be very special.”

— Gretchen Kittelberger, President of IF3

Don’t hold your breath though – the goal is to see Functional Fitness make its debut at the Olympics in Los Angeles, 2028. 

“We believe this would be a very fitting time to be included and would bring the sport full circle. The sport started in California, so to be able to bring it to the Olympics for the first time back in its home state would be very special,” Kittelberger added. 

Athlete Jess Coughlan said: “The evolution of Functional fitness over the last ten years has been huge, the fact that it is now considered a sport and not just an approach to training means the potential to become an Olympic sport is one of the next steps.”

Camille Leblanc Bazinet competed with CrossFit Krypton at the 2019 CrossFit Games Source: Patrick Clark

A choice to make 

The training methodology is almost identical and it’s unlikely we’d see athletes having to choose between competing in ‘functional fitness’ and CrossFit. 

“For athletes, it is another chance to test themselves physically and mentally – opportunities like this are what we train for so as more people become aware of the IFFF it will only grow in popularity,” Jess Coughlan added. 

There are already CrossFit Games athletes who’ve added Olympian to their credentials – the likes of Tia-Clair Toomey (Weightlifting) and Anna Tobias (Sailing). Camille Leblanc Bazinet has also expressed aspirations to compete in Tokyo but these women may have to make a choice in 2020. 

Traditionally, the CrossFit Games are held during the first week of August, making it near impossible to compete at both next year, with the Tokyo Olympics held from July 24 to August 9.

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