Preparing for 2024: Athletes Focus on the Journey that Lies Ahead
Along with 180 age group and 30 adaptive athletes, 40 men, 40 women and 40 teams have descended upon Madison to battle for the crown of the fittest man, fittest woman and affiliate cup winner.
However, there are those athletes who, after barely missing out on a qualifying spot, are looking ahead to 2024. At Semifinals, they barely missed punching their tickets, but they are hungry, motivated and thinking ahead, ready for their shot next year.
One big thing: At the North America West and East Semifinals, team Verdant Crossfit and individuals Anikha Greer and Emily White gave show-stopping performances but in a heartbreaking outcome, the three missed qualifying by the smallest of margins.
Remind me: At the North America West Semifinal, team Verdant CrossFit remained in the top 10 all weekend, and in a devastating turn of events, lost out on the 10th and final qualifying spot by only one point. This margin haunted the team and captain Isaac Campbell for months afterwards.
- “Missing the Games was one of the hardest things for us as a team, especially with it coming down to only 1 point. For me personally it took a long time to let it settle. You feel like you kinda made it but you didn’t. The internal dialogue begins right then…What could we have done as a team?” questioned Campbell.
Fan-favorite Anikha Greer has been on the verge of qualifying for the last three years. The 2023 season was unfolding in an exciting way, after her performance at the Rogue Invitational, and her high placing in the Open and Quarterfinals.
At the North America East Semifinals, Greer put on an electrifying show, with fans cheering her on all weekend, excited to see the young athlete finally punch her ticket. But like team Verdant CrossFit, Greer missed qualifying by a slim margin and placed 12th.
Emily White has also been battling for the last three years, finding herself closer and closer each time to a qualifying spot. At the North America West Semifinal, although she nabbed a test win, White placed 14th, four spots away from qualifying.
Looking ahead: While the three were devastated, they are all looking to next year, pondering what small changes they can make, what they can do to give them an advantage over their competitors. Campbell and the Verdant Crossfit team specifically are feeding a fire that they are anxious to release come the start of the 2024 season.
- Campbell: “I love my team and none of us want to feel that again. There is always going to be dissatisfaction with anything but winning. We felt that. Now we are using that. We will qualify next year and are training hard in the right ways in the off season. We stay motivated this far out because we know it is within our control to qualify.”
Both Greer and White speak to the journey that they have been on and the lessons they’ve found along the way.
- White: “I am obviously focused on the Games for 2024, but instead of just focusing on that as the “finish line” I’m focusing on the checkpoints along the way. The journey really is the best part of doing CrossFit for me.”
- Greer: “I knew before this year that missing it by one spot is the worst feeling in the world. This year really just feels like a test of my will and my patience. However, the one thing this year has taught me more than any other is how to love the journey more than I ever have. I’ve never been happier in a training environment or loved every day more.”
The big picture: All three athletes focus on developing a healthy, functional mindset coming off of such a loss and in turn preparing for the next step down the line, however far away that may be. Regardless of their physical strengths and weaknesses, their mental game seems to be their priority and the driving force behind their fortitude.
- White: “You really have to learn how to work through those lows to not let it affect your next workout because there are still points on the table. Next year I just need to be fitter than my mistakes.”
- Greer: “Knowing that my weaknesses are things that just require time and volume to improve, helps. It reassures me that my patience and persistence will pay off. I think it’s honestly a blessing that I’ve been put through so much and been tested on so much at such a young age. I truly believe it’ll set me up for even greater, and longer term success down the line.”
- Campbell: “The battle in our minds is one that we are constantly working on. We are working hard, because there is always hard work to do.”
The bottom line: Each year, as fans we celebrate the wins and grieve the losses. There can only ever be a certain number of athletes qualifying to move on from one stage to the next. However, we can’t help but root for the men and women gutting it out year after year, working hard, waiting for their chance to arrive. Many will be watching what Verdant CrossFit, Anikha Greer and Emily White can bring to the competition floor in 2024, hoping that their time will come.