Why I’m Retiring: Sam Briggs

February 22, 2022 by
Photo credit: Athlete's Eye Photography
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Dear CrossFit,

As many of you have suspected, this will be my last season competing in the sport. A few people have been wondering what my plans are for the future, and I wanted you to hear it directly from me. I also wanted to have the opportunity to say “thank you” for the most incredible 12 years competing in a sport, and being part of a community that I truly love.

I originally started CrossFit in 2009 to supplement my training as a triathlete and stay physically fit for my job as a firefighter. From the outset, it was clear CrossFit was unique. I had competed in other sports at a high level, but the difference here was that even though you were competing against other people, they did not feel like your enemy, and the spectators brought another level of energy with them. I knew straight away I had found my people; this is where I belonged.

It was a surreal experience to make the CrossFit Games for the first time in 2010, but that was when I truly fell in love with CrossFit, the sport, not just the training methodology. That first year in Carson, and performing under the lights in the tennis stadium made me feel like a real athlete. I suppose that year was the beginning of the “professional” era with the sport growing and evolving so much over the next few years. In certain respects, we were still learning a lot about how to treat ourselves as athletes … but nevertheless, the experience was incredible!

Photo credit: Athlete’s Eye Photography

Coming fourth in 2011 made me realise I had a serious shot at making it to the podium. I threw everything into the run-up to the 2012 season but unfortunately, an injury meant I had to withdraw part way through the Open. However, never one to quit, I made the decision that if I was able to compete in 2013 I’d go all in. This meant taking a career break from firefighting to try and make it as a full-time athlete. The decision paid off and the hard work resulted in me achieving the ultimate goal of winning the Games in 2013. It’s still crazy to me that I stood atop the podium, and I’m so proud that I dared not only to dream it, but I went out and made it happen.

When I look back over the years there are certain memories that stand out. In particular, Team World vs Team USA, killer Murph in 2015, beating the boys during the ranch run in 2016 (sorry Brent), winning the Dubai CrossFit Championship in 2018 and being named the spirit of the Games in 2019. 

I guess I’d like to be known as someone who’s willing to hurt when needed…as someone willing to go deep into the pain cave and have the ability to laugh and joke about it afterwards…It’s because I have had so much fun it’s hard to finally step away from this sport. I like to think of it as grit and not stubbornness.

I guess I’d like to be known as someone who’s willing to hurt when needed, but has fun doing so. Not necessarily competing injured, (as I have too many times and wouldn’t recommend), but as someone willing to go deep into the pain cave and have the ability to laugh and joke about it afterwards. I started CrossFit because I had so much fun and I’ve always tried to show that in my training and competing. It’s because I have had so much fun it’s hard to finally step away from this sport. I like to think of it as grit and not stubbornness.

The sport has changed a lot from where I started. Amazing things have happened from both a professionalization and sponsorship point of view. It’s so incredible to see the younger athletes stepping into the limelight, taking the sport to new levels. There has been a shift for young females who are now growing up wanting to be strong and athletic, being proud of what their bodies are capable of, rather than what they look like. I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of it and hope I have inspired people to follow their dreams regardless of their age. 

I knew in 2020 that I was nearing the end of my time competing. However, with the changes due to the pandemic, I didn’t want my last experience of the Games to be an online competition. I made the decision with my coach that we would give it two more years as I am 40 this year and we thought it would be a pretty cool age to sign off at. 

My plan is to compete throughout the rest of this season, but then that will be it for me. As sad as it is to finally say I’m done competing, I am super excited about the next chapter. Before CrossFit my passion was firefighting so it made complete sense to me to go back. Luckily I have a very supportive partner so I’ve already started studying to retake my firefighting qualifications, and if all goes well I’ll be starting Fire Academy this August. 

One thing is for sure though, CrossFit will still remain a big part of my life. I will continue to be a part of my two boxes in Manchester, UK. I have so many more crazy challenges to do to raise money for charity and you may see me at future competitions coaching an athlete or two.

To all of you who have cheered me on, coached me, judged me, stopped for a chat or sweated alongside me, I want to thank you. I leave the sport proud of my time in it and with so many great memories and even greater friends. The community of CrossFit is, and always will be, family to me.

Thanks for the memories, and remember to follow your dreams… you never know where they’ll take you!


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