Elliot and Jamie Simmonds: New Location, Same Focus
With so much new in the world of CrossFit in these past twelve months, we decided to check in with one power couple in the sport who despite all the newness remain committed to their focus, commitment, and goal, albeit in a, yes, new, location.
Remind Me: Jamie Simmonds (Greene back then) broke onto the scene when she won the 2016 CrossFit Open. That season she competed as part of Team Yas and ultimately took third place at the Games. Elliot Simmonds was also a member of that team, although no one was really giving him much attention yet.
- Since then, they’ve both abandoned the team competition at the highest level. Jamie has qualified and competed as an individual at the Games each of the last four seasons, earning a career best finish of third in 2019. Elliot qualified as an individual in both 2018 and 2019. He placed 19th in 2019 and was part of the final, controversial cut after the Sprint event that season.
Sanctional success: Both Jamie and Elliot competed three times in the first Sanctional season (2018-2019), but not necessarily at all the same competitions. Jamie finished second at all three competitions that season; while Elliot had a pair of fifth place finishes and a thirteenth at a deep field at Wodapalooza.
- In the abbreviated second Sanctional season, Elliot took tenth in a stacked field in Dubai while Jamie had top five finishes at both Dubai and Rogue. Ultimately the end of that season was a little underwhelming for both. Coming off a career best Open finish of 24th, it wasn’t good enough for Elliot to make the Games as the format was forced to change under the worldwide circumstances. Jamie, on the other hand, easily qualified and was among the popular picks to finish in the top five. She finished twelfth and failed to qualify for Stage Two.
One big thing: With the 2020 season not necessarily going the way either had envisioned, they’ve made some big life choices recently prompting us to check in with them as we’re on the brink of the 2021 season, and everything that potentially comes with that.
We’ve asked them six questions to see where they are at physically, mentally, and emotionally, with the Open less than ten days away. We’ll let them take it from here:
Morning Chalk Up: What prompted the change in location for you guys? Was it a long time coming, or more of a quick decision type of thing? (Also, how long had you guys been in the United Arab Emirates, and where’s the final destination for you guys at this point?)
- Elliot Simmonds: “Jamie and I had been at Crossfit Yas since 2014. As for the final destination it’s hard to say because as we are the type of people to settle as long as we are happy, but I would say New Zealand is probably the place we want to start a family (that’s a long way off right now haha).”
- ES: “So Jay and I did a three-month stint in London at the start of 2019 and we saw big improvements in our training which led to a successful 2019 season for both of us. That kind of planted the idea in our heads but at the time we didn’t think it would be possible to make it our full time thing. Fast forward a year and during lockdown we were exploring how we could stay in Abu Dhabi but focus more on full time training, although I would like to mention we have always been extremely looked after at Yas and it wasn’t like we were struggling to train or anything.”
- “After coaching for six years-plus, we wanted to just go for it full time for a few years after the experience we had in London the year prior. So yeah, a lot of time went into exploring our options and we started to put the numbers together to see if we could afford to go full time elsewhere. Although it was a bit of a risk leaving the security of a full time job where we were comfortable we just decided it was what we wanted to do and at least give it a good crack! We both would rather say we tried and failed than regret not trying!”
Morning Chalk Up: How does a change in location affect your programming and or training at all? Who’s doing your programming? Do you have different training partners now? Does the different climate make it harder or easier to prepare?
- Elliot Simmonds: It’s actually really exciting because Jamie and I are going to start training together. We both have separate coaches who we have been with for the last five-plus years but they are going to collaborate on the structure of our training and then we will adjust little things based [on] what our individual needs are.”
- ES: “For the last six years we have trained at the same time but doing completely different things and occasionally jumping in together or having other people join us so this will be good for both of us I think. The climate makes it harder to warm up and stay warm between sessions haha — but it also means we sweat less and don’t need to constantly change clothes and use towels during training. So there are pros and cons but nothing that drastically affects anything.”
Morning Chalk Up: Assuming you both qualify for Semifinals, it appears you’ll have to do them on different continents… granted Jamie would be week one and Elliot would be either week three or four; when is the last time either of you has competed at a major competition and not had the other there (whether they were competing or not)?
- Elliot Simmonds: “Jamie competed in the Down Under Crossfit Championship in Australia in 2019 and I did the French Throwdown in 2019. So not too long ago. Let’s see what happens with the Semifinals and COVID.”
Morning Chalk Up: Elliot — were you disappointed at all to miss out on the Games last year? If yes, does that motivate you to leave no doubt this season that you belong there? If not, have you been able to leverage the extra time away from competition to have a more focused training cycle leading into 2021?
- Elliot Simmonds: “I was definitely disappointed after having the best open of my career but it is what it is, a lot of other athletes were in the same boat. To be honest, my motivation hasn’t really changed as my long term goals have been the same since day one. What it did allow me to do was focus more on the process because it was made clear that something such as a worldwide event could take everything away from you.
- ES: “The new season structure has definitely made it easier to think about the plan going forward and we moved to the UK at the perfect time to get stuck in and keep our heads down into some hard training.”
Morning Chalk Up: Jamie — are you excited for the return to the “Regional” feel for this season, specifically having a focused event back in Australia with all the top athletes there once again? Or, did you like better being able to compete closer to where you were living at the time? Do you envision that trip and everything around it being a hindrance in anyway for athletes like you and Tia, who would have to make a rather big interruption to training and your season to travel out there, possibly quarantine, acclimate to the time zone etc, compete, hopefully qualify, and then do it all again coming back to Europe?
- Jamie Simmonds: “I’m really really excited to compete in Australia! I love going home and throwing down with the Kiwis and Aussies, it’s always the best atmosphere and always a good challenge being up against those girls. Yes this year’s circumstances do make it a little more difficult, the quarantine period isn’t ideal, but if we have enough time to plan it’s doable. Competing-wise it does put a bit more strain on the athlete but that’s all part of the game. I really do hope travel restrictions do swing our way and we can all throw down in Brisbane!”