CrossFit Games

The Ups and Downs of Gabriela Migała’s Day 1 at Lowlands

May 20, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Athlete's Eye Photography | Patrick Clark
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Gabriela Migała headed into the 2022 CrossFit Games season as an early podium favorite in a women’s division stacked with contenders. How could she not be, at just 23-years old the native of Poland had her best career finish at the Games at 6th and recorded podium finishes in two of the top offseason competitions in the Rogue Invitational and the Dubai CrossFit Championship.

Combine that with a 13th place in the Worldwide Open and winning the European Quarterfinals in the first two stages of the Games season, even in a stacked women’s field at the Lowlands Throwdown she was picked to finish either as the champion or the runner-up in Amsterdam, Netherlands this weekend.

So for those waking up in the United States and other countries to see her in 6th place, one spot behind a Games qualifying spot and 54 points behind the current leader Laura Horvath, people are probably assuming something disastrous happened. However, that is far from the truth.

Part of the Plan: No one plans for a bad finish, however they can plan to manage themselves from having an even worse finish. That was the thinking for Migała and her coach John Singleton, head coach and founder of The Progrm when 2014 Regional Event 5 was announced. Singleton is one of the smartest and calculated coaches in CrossFit and started coming up with a plan for the workout that features 10 legless rope climbs. Migała and he both know that strict upper-body pulling is not her strong point. She has improved but not at the level yet of someone like Horvath who has a background in climbing.

So they managed her reps and planned for a finish that would not eliminate her from the Games invite, knowing the other events on schedule played to her strengths they just needed to finish the workout below the time cap and not to have any failed attempts. Failed attempts in legless workouts are taxing to the grip, forearms, and shoulders. Once those muscles in those body parts are exhausted they are hard to recover.

Migała immediately started kipping her body, using her strong lower body to propel her up the 15-foot rope. Swing, grip and pull. After she touched the top of the crossbeam she would look at her watch and time the next jump, going roughly every :30 seconds, leading her to finish the workout in 5:47.96 which placed her in a huge hole at 17th place to start the competition.

Bounce back: Give credit to Singleton and Migała for not going into panic mode. Instead they both knew that hse could ill-afford to have any mistakes and have an almost perfect run through the rest of the Semifinals to not only make up the points but also fend off those in her division looking for the Games invite as well.

Event 2, “Insidious” on paper would be a workout that Migała could finish in the top five. With a 22 minute timecap it’s easy to fall into the trap of starting off too fast as those in the heat prior to Migała’s did, as all 10 women were time-capped.

Migała was methodical in her pace to start, she was the fourth athlete to finish the initial 1,200 run on the Air Runner and then went into the first set of 3 rounds of axle-bar deadlifts and handstand walks with a gameplan of breaking up the taxing deadlifts. Her strategy paid off as she returned back to the Air Runners for the final 1,200 meter run in second place, two seconds behind Horvath. She turned that time deficit into a :44 second lead as she came off the Runner first and smartly broke up her deadlifts into two sets.

By the time she got to the rower for the 600 meters her lead had shrunk to :24 seconds as Horvath was hot on her heels. Those :24 seconds proved valuable against an accomplished rower like Horvath as Migała held a 1:47/500 meter pace and finished with a time of 18:41.75, :13 second ahead of Horvath, for the event win.

She executed the plan and showed the poise of an athlete who has made the Games podium her home and not one seeking her first. If she can stick to the plan the rest of the week, she needs to just finish in the top-5 come Sunday, she can keep her podium dreams alive.

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