Haley Adams Reflects on Her 2020 Games

November 6, 2020 by
Photo courtesy of CrossFit LLC.

The 2020 CrossFit Games season came to a close less than two weeks ago and for athletes all around the globe their seasons featured highs and lows. Haley Adams experienced all of those emotions just over the course of her weekend in Aromas, CA for the Games. A rested and recovered Adams shared her Games experience with the Morning Chalk Up.

Remind me: Though only 19-years old and the youngest competitor in the field, Adams was far from being a newcomer to the Games two weeks ago. After competing and dominating in the teen division from 2016-2018 at the Games, she made the move to Cookeville, TN to train with Rich Froning and CrossFit Mayhem. That change led to her debut as an individual athlete at the 2019 Games where she surprised everyone including herself with a sixth place finish and “Rookie of the Year” honors. 

This year she qualified for her second-straight Games through a third place finish at Strength in Depth. After the season was thrown into a flux due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Adams competed in the online stage of the Games in September. She came on strong the final day of competition and finished third overall punching her ticket to California.

Life in the bubble: Like most athletes competing at the Games, Adams departed for California a few days prior to checking into the Games. Accompanied by her friend and training partner Tasia Percevecz, she was able to get in a training session with another CrossFit Mayhem teammate, Chyna Cho and later trained with fellow Games competitor Kari Pearce. 

  • Adams: “It was so helpful having Tasia with me. She’s with me and trains with me everyday so she knows me very well.”

The athletes were then screened and given a COVID-19 test before quarantining in their hotel room for 24 hours. After their quarantine, the athletes were then able to train and prepare for the three-day final stage of the Games. During that time the athletes went through mandatory event briefings and media obligations followed by a lot of downtime that Adams said she spent on Tik Tok and social media.

  • Adams: “The days in the bubble leading up to the games were actually nice. We weren’t in a rush and didn’t have a lot of extra things to do. It was nice to have downtime.”

Day 1: Adams started her second Games appearance with a second place finish in 2007 Reload, keeping pace with and pushing Tia-Clair Toomey. Her strong start put the field on notice that she not only had gotten fitter but also mentally stronger. She would put on a solid day one performance that also included another second place finish in the grueling Ranch Loop and a pair of third place finishes in Corn Sack Sprint and Handstand Sprint. After day one Adams was sitting in second place. 

  • Adams: “I was very pleased with my performance on day 1. I felt like I executed everything to the best of my ability.”

However after completing the final event of the day, the Ranch Loop, Adams got sick which made it difficult for her to recover.

  • Adams: “There honestly wasn’t much I could do. I couldn’t keep food down or fluids.”

Day 2: Adams suffered throughout the night and it showed in her day two performance to start the day. In the opening event, the Toes-to-Bar/Lunge, she was a favorite but instead took fifth. It was a disappointing start for her as she knew she needed a good finish with the Snatch Speed Triple looming, which she also placed fifth in. Those finishes dropped her out of her podium spot.

  • Adams: “I felt very shaken up Saturday morning given the night before and knew I wasn’t going to be able to perform my best so at that point just try to do everything in my ability to fuel. I knew I couldn’t help getting sick so there was no point in being down about it.”

She bounced back in the third event of the day, picking up her third runner-up finish in the Bike Repeater. However she followed that bounce-back performance with another disappointing finish in the day’s final event, Happy Star, placing fifth for the third time of the day. Her finishes dropped her to fourth in the overall leaderboard heading into the final day of competition.

  • Adams: “I wish I could redo the Toe-to-Bar/Lunge workout. I couldn’t help that I wasn’t feeling well, but man I was so looking forward to that workout and thought I would do really well.”

Day 3: The final day of competition had events that each played into Adam’s strengths and weaknesses with the final event still an unknown. She kept pace with Toomey once again in the opening event of the day, Swim ‘N’ Stuff, finishing second. She came out strong in the Sprint Sled Sprint event but was slowed down by the sled and finished fourth putting her in third place on the overall leaderboard as the athletes heading back to the Ranch for the briefing about the unknown final event that was called “the most difficult final of any Games, if not the most difficult event, to date” by Director of Sport Dave Castro.

The announcement and breakdown of Atalanta on paper looked to be one that Adams could do well on and could possibly fend off Brooke Wells and Kari Pearce, who were each 15 and 40 points behind her respectively for the coveted podium spot.

  • Adams: “I didn’t have a game plan going into Atalanta. I knew what I needed to do.”

Adams needed to finish ahead of Wells and Pearce or finish in the top three in the event to secure the podium finish. She started strong as she was the first athlete back from the opening mile, Pearce caught and eventually passed her on the handstand push-ups but Adams was the second woman off the wall keeping her at the time secured on the podium. She was also the second woman after Pearce to finish the pistols but was closely followed by Katrin Davidsdottir as the athletes headed to 300 repetitions of pull-ups.

Disaster hit Adams early on in the pull-ups, though, as she ripped her hands.

  • Adams: “I was quite nervous before the event because a lot was on the line. I was obviously bummed during the event when my hands ripped and I slowly saw my podium position slipping away. I’m not sure when they tore. I know it was pretty early on but the bleeding started probably before halfway. I tried to go without  getting chalk but then it just was becoming very slippery.”

Davidsdottir passed her on the pull-ups and soon after Toomey, dropping Adams to fourth place in the event and out of the podium spot. Fourth is where she would end up in the event and on the overall leaderboard and she knew that as she crossed the finish line after completing the final mile of the event. She was overcome with emotion as Percevecz and the other athletes consoled her.

  • Adams: “The tears were from being so close to the podium spot. It was real and raw emotion. I know I did everything possible with what was thrown at me and I should be very proud of my efforts and the amount of support I gained throughout the weekend was very uplifting.”

What’s next: Adams took to social media soon afterwards and thanked her fans, friends and supporters including Froning who talked strategy and the events with her before and after despite being on vacation with his family and thousands of miles away. The college freshman at Tennessee Tech has resumed her class work and will be taking some time off from training while spending time with her family in North Carolina. She’s awaiting news on the 2021 season and the chance to redeem herself.

  • Adams: “I truly just want to thank everyone for all of the love. I’ve never felt so much support from all over the world and it makes me just want to keep working harder.”

The big picture: Adams finished fourth, just 25 points behind Pearce for the podium spot after maintaining that spot for much of the weekend. Her finish at the end what many considered to be one of the toughest Games and seasons shows the future of the sport is in good hands and that a spot on the podium is just a matter of time. 

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