CrossFit Games

“This Is My Year”: Nicole Mghenyi’s Final Push To Qualify For The CrossFit Games

June 25, 2021 by
Credit @flsportsguy
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At the close of the Granite Games, two well-known Games athletes, Kristi Eramo and Steph Chung sat in the position to qualify for the Last Chance Qualifier. But there was one other name on that leaderboard that many saw for the first time.

One big thing: If you looked at the Granite Games leaderboard and thought “where did Nicole Mghenyi come from,” you weren’t alone.

  • Over the course of the weekend at Granite Games, Mghenyi catapulted herself to the top of the leaderboard within a few events and by the final day, it was looking like she might be a contender to punch her ticket for a rookie year at the Games.
  • Unfortunately, two finishes outside the top ten on day three moved her outside the top five and into sixth place overall behind Caroline Conners by 30 points.
  • However, her sixth place finish earned her one of three spots in the last chance qualifier that would give her one last opportunity to prove her fitness and lock down a ticket to the Games.

Always the bridesmaid…now the bride: While Mghenyi hasn’t stepped foot on the floor at the CrossFit Games, she was the alternate for the prestigious OC3 Black team, which took fourth in 2019.

  • She has also competed three times in Regionals, twice as an individual athlete and once on a team athlete, where they took sixth place in 2017 in the Central Region, just one spot out of qualifying for the CrossFit Games.
  • Mghenyi has also made appearances at various Sanctionals over the last few years, including Wodapalooza, competing on Team Training Think Tank in 2018, and the Reykjavik CrossFit Championship, competing as an individual.
  • She also competed as an individual in the Mayhem Classic and Strength In Depth UK in 2020 before the COVID-19 shutdowns.

Beyond the burpees: Unlike many CrossFit athletes who are able to train full-time for the CrossFit Games, Nicole Mghenyi is a full-time nurse, working in the hematology unit at her hospital and sometimes working twelve hour shifts, while still managing to squeeze in training sessions.

  • “My work schedule is so erratic and it really varies. I work both 8 hour shifts and 12 hours shifts,” said Mghenyi.
  • Working both night and day shifts can make not only fitting in training difficult, but also impact an athlete’s ability to recover.
  • “I try to get to bed at the same time each night when I’m working day shifts,” said Mghenyi on her recovery.
  • “I try to take sleep as seriously as I can, but it can be kind of hard,” she added.

Training through a pandemic: If working a full-time job on top of training wasn’t tough enough, the 2020 pandemic placed an additional strain on Mghenyi.

  • “The strain that the healthcare system took on was astronomical,” said Mghenyi.
  • “Not only did things change so much, especially last year around this time around April and May. Things were changing so fast that sometimes we’d be changing how we did things in the middle of our shifts, because new information was coming out or guidelines were changing…It was really overwhelming,” Mghenyi concluded.
  • “For a while when gyms were shut down it was hard to come home and train,” she said, remembering her days training out of her basement gym when the pandemic was in full effect.
  • “Now things are a lot better, because we’re able to train in our gym. Minnesota is now pretty open in terms of being able to train at your gym and not being able to wear a mask and I think it’s a good stress relief,” Mghenyi continued.
  • “Being at work all day and caring for people who are sick, you give a lot of yourself not only physically but mentally in being there for them,” she added.
  • “For a while, we not only had to be their nurse and caregiver, but their support system, because Minnesota wasn’t allowing visitors into the hospital,” Mghenyi noted.
  • “Just trying to shift gears from going to work and then coming into the gym was hard,” she said.
  • “It’s hard to have a good work/life balance when you work in healthcare, but I think it’s definitely possible, and I try to make it as simple as I can,” she continued.
  • “At some point, you have to push it aside and make time for yourself,” she concluded, noting the role of the gym as a place to decompress and do something for herself everyday outside of her stressful job.

One last shot: While Mghenyi failed to crack the top five and move directly on to the 2021 CrossFit Games at this year’s Granite Games, she was still able earn a spot in the Last Chance Qualifier on June 28th-July 4th.

  • “I definitely wanted to qualify. I wouldn’t say it was an expectation, because it’s earned not given, so you can’t expect to do it, but I definitely wanted to earn a spot and make it to the Games,” said Mghenyi, adding, “This is my year.”
  • While Mghenyi took a few days off after the event to recover post Granite Games (including heading to the hospital the very next morning to work a full shift), she is not letting her guard down for the Last Chance Qualifier.
  • “At some point, you need to move on. You can’t sit there and sulk about it, because if this is truly your goal, you need to go at it full speed and attack it,”
  • “That’s what we’re going to do now, we’re going to go after that Last Chance Qualifier and prove that I deserve that spot,” she concluded.

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