First-time CrossFit Games Qualifiers More Concerned About Health than Living their Dream in Madison

March 27, 2020 by
Credit: @zackgeorge
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New Zealand athlete Harriet Roberts has been chasing a CrossFit Games invitation as an individual since 2015.

She has come close to earning her ticket more than once: Roberts was 10th at the Pacific Regional in 2015, 6th in 2016, 9th in 2017, and 10th in 2018.

British athlete Zack George has had his sights set on the CrossFit Games for six years. Kendall Vincelette has been trying to qualify since 2015. And 16-year-old Anikha Greer has been dreaming about the Games since she was 13.

Greer missed out on CrossFit Games qualification by one spot in the Age Group Online Qualifier in 2018, and by five spots last year.

After many close attempts, this year, all four finally punched their ticket to Madison to compete at the 2020 CrossFit Games.

  • “It meant everything to win the UK in the Open,” said the 29-year-old George. “Six years of hard work had finally paid off.”
  • “A dream come true,” said the 28-year-old Roberts, who earned her ticket to Madison when she won the Pandaland CrossFit Challenge in Chengu, China in December 2019.

Short-lived excitement: Three-and-a-half months later, because of the unknowns cast on the CrossFit Games season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CrossFit Games are “very far from my mind,” said Roberts.

Disappointing as it is, Roberts said staying healthy, and her friends and family staying healthy amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic, is far more important than preparing to live her dream this summer.

  • “I am feeling grateful, happy and healthy. A time will come to focus on competition again, but right now, finding a routine, keeping the mind and body active and keeping in constant contact with all my loved ones is number one,” she said.

This doesn’t mean she isn’t training, of course.

Roberts lives with her best friend in Sydney, Australia and has adapted to garage training life.

  • “Like many amazing boxes around the world, our family at CrossFit Athletic have lent out equipment and we’re making do,” she said of her makeshift home gym.
  • “With so many unknowns, soon I will knuckle down into some new normal and get my competing drive back, but for now I’m busy riding the crazy rollercoaster we are all on together,” she added.

As for Vincelette, she is a nurse who ordinarily works in neonatal ICU. She also said the Games aren’t the first thing on her mind right now.

  • “I have found my thought not being about if the Games are going to occur, but more with picking up shifts to help what is occurring in the hospitals,” said the 25-year-old from Minnesota.

That being said, Vincelette is continuing to train as normal, because routine is helping her through this time, regardless of what happens this summer, she explained.

  • “I think one of the most important things is sticking to my routine. I wake up by 6 or 6:30 a.m. every day, I am still studying and doing school work, and continuing to eat well and train as if the Games are occurring,” she said.

George focuses on mindset as well: “You can only control what you can control and (I’m) trying to stick to my routine as much as possible, which I think is of huge importance at this current time. I’m still training in the morning and afternoons at the same time as I normally do, but from home instead,” he said.

And as much as he’s still hoping he’ll have the chance to compete against the best of the world sometime this year, he has another priority at the moment, too: Inspiring others not to slip into bad habits and to continue to work on their fitness.

  • “I love to encourage other people and inspire them to keep training through any circumstances. I post every day (on social media) to help encourage people as much as possible. When I was younger, I was very overweight and didn’t like exercise…I wish I had more people to help me on my journey, so I try my best to help others through motivation,” he said.

Maturity beyond her 16 years: “One of the abilities I’ve learned and refined throughout CrossFit is adaptability, so yes it’s new and it’s inconvenient, but the more we dwell on it, stress about the unknowns, and lose our brains, the worse it seems. So, I adapt and continue to train just as hard from home,” Greer said.

She added: “As of right now, I am just excited for the opportunity to sleep in and train all day.”

Prior to COVID-19, Greer didn’t have a home gym like many high-level CrossFit athletes but has been able to borrow almost everything except a rig.

  • “Which I ended up ordering and it should be here soon,” said Greer, who cleared out her garage and turned it into a gym.
  • “(It) was an absolute mess…and although it has no electricity, a couple of space heaters are doing the trick in the cold Canadian winter,” she said.

Like the others, she will continue to train as hard as she can from home and focus on what she can control. She also knows she’s just 16 and there will be plenty of opportunities for her in the future.

Vincelette agrees: “Whatever happens, happens. I am confident I will get my chance to compete at the Games, whether that be this summer, fall, or next summer. I love training, so it hasn’t been hard to continue even if the Games aren’t going to occur in August. No training is wasted training.”

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