Australia’s Kara Saunders is on track to be the first former podium athlete in the modern era to qualify for the CrossFit Games postpartum as an individual, just five months after having her baby Scotti.
- After 20.3, Saunders is placed 23rd on the worldwide leaderboard – and given that the cutoff line was extended to 35th for women in 2019 – she’s entering the final two weeks of competition in hot contention to qualify.
- Saunders is also only five points behind the reigning Fittest Woman on Earth Tia-Clair Toomey for Australia’s National Champion spot.
- Fun Fact: Fellow Australian Katelyn Van Zyl qualified postpartum in 2019.
Kara’s thoughts: “I had no expectations when it came to the Open considering I had my first baby 5 months ago,” she told the Morning Chalk Up.
“However I realized very quickly that I’m just wired a particular way. I don’t know how to ‘dip my toe in’, and I just love competing and get so caught up in it.”
She’s not been gone long: In fact, this Open marks less than a year since Kara and her husband Matt announced their pregnancy after Kara’s 4th place finish at the 2018 CrossFit Games.
The former 2nd Fittest Woman on Earth closely documented her tailored training both before and after the birth of her daughter Scotti Madison in May.
“I haven’t done anything unsafe or forced but I’ve certainly put my head down and hustled as best I can. I’m very surprised at how I’ve progressed at this point but also don’t really accept much less of myself,” Kara laughed.
The road to the top 20:
- In 2019, 30th place worldwide earned 635 points total. Saunders has currently amassed 129 points, so she would need to average 253rd over the next two events to hit 635 points. This doesn’t guarantee her a spot as each year the point spread is different but she’s sitting in a strong position.
- 20.1: Kara finished 24th worldwide with a time of 8:58.
- 20.2: Kara completed 943 reps (well into the 28th round!)
- 20.3: Kara admits deadlifts have never really been her jam. That being said, a time of 7:27 was enough to finish 70th on the worldwide leaderboard for this workout.
The history of mothers on the Games podium: While Valerie Voboril placed 3rd in 2013 and both Charity Vale (2nd) and Carey Kepler (3rd) stood on the podium at the 2009 CrossFit Games, it’s fair to say what Kara hopes to achieve is unprecedented in the modern era of CrossFit.
“I don’t necessarily want to say that if you’ve had a baby you can be a professional athlete right away, but more that if you throw yourself entirely into something you genuinely love, for yourself, then really cool things can happen.”
While her competitive mindset is stronger than ever, Kara admits the unpredictability of being a mum has its challenges:
“In all of that confusion and emotion the most amazing thing you can do is just show up, embrace one of the most mind-blowing times of your life and never fall victim to judgment or emotion,” she added.
The plan for the 2020 season: The Open was to be a stepping stone until Kara “started doing better than I thought,” she said.
“Now I have this shiny thing dangling in front of me and I want it and I’m a little stressed.”
She admitted qualifying so early in the season would allow her to use the sanctioned events as practice and a chance to take some risks. Either way, Kara plans on competing at a number of sanctionals, bringing 5-month-old Scotti along for the ride.
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