New Coach, New Training Partner, New Country, New Mindset: Anikha Greer is a New Athlete in 2023
In 2018, Anikha Greer started to feel like she had something to prove.
That year, while sitting in her ninth grade math class obsessively updating the Age Group Online Qualifier leaderboard, Greer discovered she had missed punching her ticket to the CrossFit Games by one spot.
- It was heartbreaking for the teenager, who started to grow a chip on her shoulder.
The next year was a similar story. Greer placed in the top 15 in the Age Group Online Qualifier, but that year only 10 athletes, as opposed to the usual 20, earned a ticket to the Games.
Finally in 2020, Greer did qualify to the Games, but the pandemic led to a canceled teen event.
And the feeling of being “ticked off” picked up more steam, explained Greer, who is 19 years old (nearly 20) and yet to compete at the CrossFit Games.
- “I have had a chip on my shoulder about a lot…Every year I felt like I deserved something,” Greer explained.
To some degree, living with a chip almost became Greer’s identity in the sport. She didn’t know what kind of athlete she was without it.
Then last year happened: The technical glitch that was heard through the entire CrossFit community.
Greer submitted her score for the final 2022 Quarterfinals workout, and somehow it got lost in cyberspace and was never received by CrossFit LLC. Ultimately, the technical hiccup cost Greer her season.
And yet another reason for her anger to grow. Another reason to feel like the sport owed her something.
But that’s not what happened.
In fact, today Greer has let it all go. She no longer lives with a chip, and no longer feels like she has something to prove.
- “This is the first year that I don’t feel like that,” she said.
Today, Greer has a new mindset, a mindset that helped her place an impressive seventh overall finish in the world at the recent Quarterfinals, and fourth in North America East.
Greer has accepted the fact that CrossFit owes her nothing.
- “The world and the sport doesn’t owe me anything. I could give it everything and it could give me nothing, and that’s just the way it works,” she said.
Coming to terms with this has freed her from the shackles, she explained, and has left her in a better place.
- “I feel more grateful this year than I have, I think, ever in the sport. It’s definitely a different attitude for me, but I feel much more grounded as a person now,” she said.
How she got here: After last year’s disappointing Quarterfinals debacle, Greer continued to train and compete in off-season events, including winning the CanWest Games in Vancouver, B.C. last July, and competing at the Madrid Championship and the Rogue Invitational.
Then, shortly after the Rogue Invitational, a mysterious back injury hit.
Greer isn’t sure how it happened, when it happened, or even what was ultimately going on, but the injury was so debilitating she was unable to lift, run, swim, bike, or even just bend over or put her hands over her head.
- “I was useless,” she said, adding that the prognosis was “a little bit of a medical mystery,” as multiple scans, including an MRI, showed no evidence of injury.
- “I almost thought I was crazy for the longest time because there was nothing showing up (on the scans), yet it hurt. My brain was sending pain signals, so it was very confusing and frustrating,” she said.
She tried working through the pain for a whole month until one day her boyfriend said, “Anikha, stop doing things. Just stop moving,” she remembered, laughing.
As difficult as it was to feel like she was “mentally giving up” on herself, Greer listened to him and rested, literally doing nothing, for an entire month.
It worked. Her injury healed.
In January, feeling on the mend, Greer packed her car and made the official move from Prince Edward Island to Miami, FL to train with Georgia-based Training Think Tank coach Max El-Hag, who she credits with her 2023 success so far.
Greer admits the training changes were challenging at first, as she was forced to take a quality over quantity training approach with El-Hag. This led her to feel like she wasn’t doing enough volume in training at times, but something told her to trust him, and she’s glad she did.
- “What Max is doing is working, and he’s brilliant. I have a lot of trust in him,” said Greer, who mostly trains at Peak 360 in Miami with nine-time CrossFit Games veteran Noah Ohlsen, but she also makes the trek to Alpharetta, GA from time-to-time to train in-person with El-Hag.
Training with Ohlsen has been another big game changer, Greer explained, not just because he pushes her physically, but because he has been just what she has needed to turn a mental corner.
- “His energy is the perfect balance for me to be around,” Greer said about Ohlsen.
As much as things started to turn in Miami for Greer, considering she was coming off the two-month injury, she didn’t have big expectations heading into the Open in February.
Somehow, though, she still managed to place an impressive 78th overall.
Up next was Quarterfinals, where she blew it out of the water, finishing seventh in the world and fourth in North America East, making her a clear favorite to snag one of the 11 Games spots at the upcoming Semifinals in Orland, FL.
- “My goal was just to get through (the workouts) healthy and mentally together. I wasn’t planning on being top 10 in the world,” she said of her surprise Quarterfinals performance.
Needless to say, the result has built her confidence heading into Semifinals, helping her believe she has the fitness to snag a Games ticket. But an even bigger weapon for Greer this season is her new mindset that has left her feeling like a different person than just a year ago.
- “So many things have happened that changed me between last year and now. I moved countries. I moved away from home for the first time. I changed coaches. I got hurt for two months…It feels like I’m a different person,” she said. “I still have the same fire and I still want to be the best, but it’s coming from a different, more internally-driven place now.”
A different person, who instead of feeling pissed off and desperate to prove herself, feels grateful to be able to compete, relaxed and ready to take things in stride at Semifinals.
“Just one workout at a time. Execute everything to the best of my abilities, which I now know what it feels like to do in this headspace and body from Quarterfinals. If I can just replicate that, that’s all I need to do,” she said.