CrossFit Games

Emma Lawson and Olivia Sulek Dominate Teen Division

July 30, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Ava Kitzi
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The 16-17 Girls division is no stranger to budding elite athletes. 

Gabriela Migala, Haley Adams, and most recently Emma Cary and Mallory O’Brien, all got their start in the teen division, and with Cary and O’Brien absent from the field this year, a big question mark was left as to who was going to reign supreme. 

Two girls erased any and all concerns about the future of the Games: Emma Lawson and Olivia Sulek. Between the two, they clinched seven of the nine event wins available, and had both mathematically secured podium finishes before the last event.

Though Lawson still has one more year of teenage eligibility, the 16-year-old shows impressive potential to make the individual division in the future, showing off her prowess with an absolutely dominating performance throughout the week. 

  • Lawson won by 45 points over Sulek in second place, and 155 over third place finisher Paulina Haro. 
  • Coming hot out of the gates, she started day 1 with back-to-back first place finishes in Event 1 and 2, then a second place finish in Event 3.
  • Lawson is just one of two 16-year-olds to ever win the 16-17 girls division, and the first since Kaela Stephano in 2017.

The breakdown: 

  • First place: Event 1 with a 4.5 mile run.
  • First place: Event 4 with 168 feet of handstand walks.
  • Second place: Event 3 where she snatched 192 pounds/87kgs.
  • Third place: Event 9 with 30 thrusters at 135 pounds/61kgs on top of 30 wall walks.

Lawson shows impressive versatility that will be important as she aims for a spot in the individual division in the future. In the 2021 Open, she placed 15th worldwide and qualified for the North American Quarterfinal, where she placed 24th. At the Atlas Games, the North American online Semifinals event, Lawson placed 9th, just 25 points out of a spot qualifying for the Games as an individual and with a 2nd place finish in Event 2. 

Photo Credit: Ava Kitzi

Lawson was in good company, though. The 2018 14-15 Champion Olivia Sulek pushed Lawson for that coveted top podium spot all weekend, showing talent, toughness, and intelligence in a way only experienced athletes can. 

  • Sulek joined Lawson in qualifying for Individual Quarterfinals from a 52nd place worldwide finish, and placed 30th in the North American Semifinals.
  • At the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge, Sulek placed 24th, with a 5th place finish in “Grettel.”
  • Sulek: “I’m used to leading the pack, but I had a lot of humbling moments at the MACC. You get humbled and you realize that people are there to win, and it made me realize that I have a lot of work to do, and that’s what’s motivated me this year.”
Photo Credit: Ava Kitzi

The 17-year-old found that she was more mentally sound this year than ever before, and it affected her performance immensely. 

  • “This year I felt different, at peace before I came in, I knew I’d never worked this hard, I knew whatever the result was I could be proud of myself,” Sulek said. She also expressed how she’s been working on adopting this mindset since the Semifinals and it has helped her stay motivated and mentally tough all year. “How I’ve been feeling since the MACC, I’m going to just do that all again.”
  • The plan for next year? “Oh for sure, to qualify as an individual, but not just to qualify but be competitive…but right now, I just want some ice cream and chocolate!”

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