National Champion Profile: Sara Alicia, Spain
From the beginning of the first Open workout this year, Sara Alicia knew she was going to become Spain’s national champion
Sara Alicia agrees with the CrossFit community about the horror of 20.1, the first Open workout that was 10 rounds of 8 ground-to-overhead and 10 over-the-bar burpees.
- Alicia: “It was a long WOD. It was a WOD of continuous suffering, and it wasn’t in my comfort zone at all.”
But, almost from the beginning of the workout, Alicia was happy — kind of.
- Alicia: “I don’t have emotions when I compete. I just look for where it’s hurting and try to maintain that pain.”
When she realized that she’d done it, that she’d controlled her emotions and continued to suffer, she knew she was going to win the Open.
- Alicia: “I just knew from the intensity that I had, the rage, how I felt afterward. You have to be careful because obviously too much confidence can derail you, but I stayed cool and collected the next four weeks.”
At the end of the Open, she finished in 34th place worldwide and became Spain’s national champion for the second time in a row.
On one hand, this kind of focused clarity, almost without thinking or feeling, isn’t unusual for Alicia. Her first day of CrossFit six years ago, she went to a box, saw the athletes, and was hooked.
- Alicia: “Women were doing these pull-ups that were so smooth, and I said, ‘I want to do this.’”
On the other hand, Alicia experiences strong emotions, and she’s worked hard to avoid becoming distracted by them.
- Alicia: “The psychological part is important for me. I believe that my turning point was realizing, ‘I can’t be affected by things I have no control over.”
A telling example is the first WOD from last year’s Games. Alicia finished in 76th, and if she’d done just one more rep, she would’ve survived the first cut. Still, she was satisfied. Why?
- Alicia: “Because everything isn’t always going to go your way. At the time, my personal life was complicated. I’d lost a lot of weight, and to tackle a WOD with legless rope climbs, which isn’t a strength of mine, that was hard. But, they aren’t going to give you the WODs that you like.”
During competition, Alicia has learned to control her emotions well, but they never disappear, especially when she walks off the floor.
- Alicia: “It’s really hard to separate your private life from your athletic life. Recently, a feeling I’ve had is that I’m not doing enough to get to the Games how I want to get there. Everyone around me is saying otherwise, but that feeling’s hard to shake.”
Since the Open, Alicia has taken steps to improve her mental fortitude.
- She moved from the northeast of Spain, where the situation was “toxic,” to Madrid, the capital and where her coach of the past three years lives.
- She’s also found a new psychologist, who she sees once or twice a week.
The strategy Alicia’s chosen is a risky one — eliminate her negative thoughts while also harnessing the intensity of the emotions behind them: confidence, certainty, rage. In Madison this August, her goal is to finish in the top 20. It’s ambitious, but amid the confusion and excitement of the Games, she’ll have a mantra: “Here, now. You’re here right now, and this is the moment. You’re capable, and you’re strong.”