The Journey from Teen to Individual: Meet Rookie Games Qualifier Tudor Magda
Unlike the women’s division, where athletes like Haley Adams, Mallory O’Brien and Emma Cary made the transition from the teen division one year to the individual the next look easy, such is not generally the case for 17 to 18-year-old boys.
At 18, most teenage males simply don’t have enough man strength to jump directly into the individual division and compete with the fittest men in the world, leaving them in a transition phase for at least a couple years as they hone their skills.
Tudor Magda, though, is proving to be an exception. The 19-year-old who started CrossFit when he was just 9 years old, qualified to this summer’s NOBULL CrossFit Games with a fourth place finish at the Syndicate Crown Semifinals in Knoxville, TN.
After competing at the CrossFit Games as a teenager for three straight years—2017, 2018 and 2019—including topping the podium in 2018, Magda was set to compete for the fourth and final time as a 17-year-old in 2020 before the age group divisions were canceled due to the pandemic in 2020.
He didn’t skip much of a beat after that, qualifying to Semifinals in his first year as an individual last season, placing a respectable 21st overall at the CrossFit West Coast Classic.
Just one year later and still a teenager, Madga, has proven he can compete with the men.
Magda insists failing to qualify as an individual last season at 18 wasn’t a physical strength problem.
Strength has always been his strength, he insists, and is something he proved at the recent Syndicate Crown when he won the barbell complex event.
Instead, he just wasn’t ready mentally last year.
“The gap is pretty big from the teens to the males and the competition is much fiercer, much more competitive. So it can be easy to get caught up in the race with everyone going so fast,” said Magda, adding that this got the better of him last year.
“Execution on the floor has been something we have been working on, and not just that, but also what I’m thinking during those workouts. It’s really easy to let the race get the better part of you and start thinking about the people that are ahead, or what paces other people are holding, and sometimes negative thoughts can slip in…So for me, practicing my self-talk during workouts in training has helped me find a better grinding state, where I can just flow through the workout,” he continued.
Ultimately, it has taken Magda two years to gain the confidence he needed to break through competing against athletes like reigning Games champion Justin Medeiros.
“It’s just believing in myself, that I can hang with those guys, and that’s what me and my coach have worked on the most,” said Magda, who moved from Seattle, WA to Iowa in January to train in person with his coach James Townsend this season.
Being in person with Townsend has made a world of difference, Madga explained.
“The mental part of my game has been the thing I needed to work on the most, so it has been a huge help to have someone in person to bounce ideas off of and to just work with me on staying out of my head,” he said.
Another key to Magda’s success this season so far has been learning to relax a little bit, and be less tunnel-visioned about CrossFit.
“Making sure that I have a balanced life, making sure that I’m involved socially with others and not just in the gym,” Magda explained, who admitted this has been a struggle in the past.
“I’m so passionate about the sport that it’s easy to just try and optimize every single part of my life for it, but honestly for me I think I have a greater potential if I just relax a little bit. It has been hard to kind of get used to that, but I’m excited to see if I continue doing that where it will take me in the future,” he said.
So far, living a more balanced life this last season helped Magda put less pressure on himself at Semifinals and be “more at peace with whatever outcome came at the end of the weekend,” he said.
And the outcome, of course, was the one he wanted: A ticket to the Games.
Playing the Long Game
Magda insists he is heading into this summer’s Games with the same mindset he did at Semifinals: no pressure.
When it comes to the leaderboard, he isn’t even setting a goal for where he hopes to finish.
“I think I’ll do the best that week if I don’t put as much pressure on myself to achieve a number or title,” Magda said.
That being said, he said that he feels like he belongs with the fittest men in the world, and wants “to prove that I can fight at the Games, as well.”
The reason he’s able to take such a relaxed attitude this season, Magda explained, is partly because, even though he has been in the sport for a decade already, he’s just getting started and is here to play the long game. This summer then is but a stepping stone to where he wants to go, Magda explained.
“Ultimately my goal is to win the Games one day, and wherever I am at the end of this year, I’ll take that as a data point for continuing to work toward that greater goal.”