CrossFit Games

“I believe this is my first season as a CrossFit athlete,”: Bronislaw Olenkowicz Joins Justin Cotler’s Underdogs Athletics and Starts Comeback Season

March 26, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Jennifer Henning Photography (
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Bronislaw Olenkowicz, known as Bron, has been a mainstay in the “OMG did you see that lift” side of Instagram for years. Few may remember though that he made a Games appearance in 2019.

Olenkowicz just had an impressive performance in Quarterfinals where he currently sits in 21st place worldwide and 11th in Europe. 

The 34-year-old athlete resides in a small town in Poland and characterizes 2023 as the first year season he gets to perform as an athlete. He hopes to make the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games, with the help of his coach Justin Cotler. Olenkowicz has gone from cherry picking workouts and writing his own training to training under Cotler, the owner and head coach of Underdogs Athletics. 

  • “I believe this is my first season as a CrossFit athlete,” said Olenkowicz. 
  •  “I will do my best in every event. And you know we cannot be sure of everything. But I can train really hard and if I keep up all the good work with Just it’s possible.”
  • “So it’s a matter of time, luck, and love of things, and I will be prepared. But I really believe that this is possible.” 

The training camp is known to produce some monster athletes including Ricky Garard, Bethany Shadburne, and Kari Pearce. 

Olenkowicz says he trains remotely and gets coaching from Cotler virtually. Even though it is virtual, Olenkowicz says being regimented with Cotler’s programming and coaching are what has made him so successful thus far this season. 

Remind me: Olenkowicz made the Games in 2019 where he placed 42nd. He made Quarterfinals in 2021 and 2022, but only made it to Semifinals in 2021 where he placed 10th, according to his CrossFit HQ athlete profile

  • “By the end of last year I decided to go for the full season like an athlete, and I was looking for a coach who is experienced in coaching athletes who have performed at the Games level and going for the podium,” said Olenkowicz. 
  • He adds, Cotler was at the top of his list when he went out looking for a coach and “I was really happy that he liked the idea and he decided to help me on my journey for this season.” 
  • Olenkowicz says he’s doubled the time he’s able to train and while his strength background is very strong his focus has been on conditioning and aerobic capacity. 
  • While under Cotler, “I’ve been working on my engine the most and I lift weights at much less volume.”

The 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Open and Quarterfinals were a good series of tests for Olenkowicz, who says he trains out of CrossFit Strong House. The time difference was difficult for him to get strategy notes from Cotler, but the two made it work. 

  • “I provided whatever strategic insight I could with the time change. Obviously, some of our athletes who are here in Vegas were able to do some of the workouts prior to him doing them so I had some insight on some of the strategies and things,” said Cotler. 
  • “But really, and truly, I think we have to give him the majority of the credit. I mean, he’s putting in the work. He’s obviously dedicated himself to this season. And I’m very proud of the progress that he’s made in a very short period of time.” 
  • “I think I forced him to confront the things that he didn’t want to do in training. I think ultimately when you program for yourself it’s very easy to program around weaknesses. It’s very easy to program the things that you like to do in the gym. But at the end of the day, if you want to be a successful athlete you’ve got to attack your weaknesses.”
  • “And I think that was one of the big things he said to me in our initial conversation was that he just wasn’t doing a great job of holding himself accountable and attacking the things that he needed to attack.” 

Since this is the first season Olenkowicz says he’s able to give his full-time attention to training, he really doesn’t see it so much as a comeback season as “let’s say the first time season when I am prepared properly, like I should have years ago, but right now I have time for this,” he said. 

  • “I have the room for this, I have the support for this, and it makes me really happy,” he added. 

The bottom line: Olenkowicz is a force to be reckoned with and someone to watch as we advance to Semifinal competition. 

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