Teen Athlete Profile: Emma Cary, Girls 16-17

Mar 24, 2020 by

Emma Cary isn’t worried about having to prepare for the 2020 CrossFit Games at home.

That’s because the 15-year-old, who turns 16 in May, has a fully loaded home gym in her hometown of Marshfield,  Mo.

  • “I have an amazing home gym. Barbells and plates, pull-up bars, an Assault bike, all of the ergometers, rings,” said Cary, who topped the worldwide leaderboard for Girls 16-17 during the CrossFit Games Age Group Online Qualifier and is headed back to Madison, Wi. this summer.

That is, if the Games don’t end up canceled like everything else these days, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cary’s approach: Prepare as normal.

“I’m really just trying to control what I can. Of course, I have thought about the Games getting canceled, but I’m just going to work as hard as I can,” Cary said. She will have extra time to give to her training, considering her school has been canceled indefinitely.

Cary admits it’s challenging sometimes being 15 with peers who do not understand why she trains six days a week, twice a day, for up to four or five hours a day.

  • “I don’t really think anyone at my school really understands why I do what I do. I don’t have anyone at my gym my age either,” she said. “People at school are like, ‘You go home every day after school and you suffer for fun?’ It’s hard to explain it to them.’”

They also don’t understand why Cary brings chicken and rice with vegetables, and hummus with bell peppers, for lunch, while they devour hot dogs and pizza next to her.

  • “They look at my food and they say, ‘Oh, I feel really sorry for you that you have to eat like that,’” she said. “I try to explain that I don’t have to, that I choose to.”

Despite a disconnect with her peers, Cary said she’s used to it, as she has been living this way since she was 10 years old.

  • “My dad would come home and talk about the workouts, and I knew I’d enjoy it. So I went to a kids class when I was 10, and I knew right away I had found my passion. I had never had more fun doing anything,” said Cary of how she found CrossFit.

This passion led Cary to win the CrossFit Games last summer in the 14-15-year-old division, a feat she’s hoping to repeat this year against 16 and 17-year-olds.

Believe it or not: Cary became the fittest 15-year-old on the planet last summer doing her own programming. In fact, until two months ago, Cary didn’t have a personal coach.

Now, she works with Matt Torres of Brute Strength Training and said his guidance has made a world of difference to her fitness already.

  • “I always did research and tried to understand everything (when I did my own programming), but this was the best decision for me. Now everything we do has a reason and an intent,” she said.

Torres’ intentional coaching has helped Cary improve her strength considerably in two months, which she put to the test during Event 5 of the AGOQ—a one-rep max clean and jerk.

  • The result: Cary hit 207 pounds, her best clean and jerk to date.

Strength gains aside, Cary has also been devoting time to improving her mental game, which she knows is what will help her achieve her dream of winning the Games this summer.

  • “I have been really working on believing myself, on (recognizing) that I’m the only one who can hold myself back. Going into the online qualifier, I was trying not to think about the end result, but I also knew I was the fittest I have ever been,” she said.

Winning the AGOQ against girls a year older than her has only given Cary more reason to believe in her chances this summer.

  • “I know I can do it, but whatever the end result is, the next 134 days are about working as hard as I can, eating as well as I can, sleeping as well as I can, so I will be my very best self at the Games,” she said.

“And I just hope it will be enough to win.”


Age Group Online Qualifier | CrossFit Games

Emma Cary



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