Kara Saunders Goes Team this Season with Other Aussie “Old Dogs”

February 1, 2024 by
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Earlier this week, 10-time CrossFit Games athlete Kara Saunders announced she will be competing on a team—Mayhem Thunder—this season with three other CrossFit Games veterans from Australia, James Newbury, Khan Porter and Emily de Rooy.

With 20 Games appearances combined—five for Porter, four for Newbury, and one for 2023 rookie de Rooy—Mayhem Thunder has to be one of the early favorites for the team title this season.

Worth noting: Saunders isn’t even five months postpartum after giving birth to her second child in September and says she has been taking it very slowly getting back into it “out of respect and love for myself.”

  • “I can’t do some movements yet just because I need to build up a bit more strength and I’m fighting the battle of being tight in the shoulders from breastfeeding and carrying a heavy little dude around all day,” Saunders said.
  • “I will be smart in the Open and Quarters and then just gradually add this stuff back in time for the Semis. I’m generally not as strong but I’m not trying to be right now either. And I recover slower because I exclusively breastfeed but I’ve done this all before so I will do my best and the rest will be what it is,” she added.

Ultimately, though, Saunders feels like she’s “my best version of myself right now and just super content.”

The Making of the Super Team

After having her second child, Saunders knew individual competition wouldn’t be in the cards this season. 

  • “I didn’t know what I was going to do this season, but I knew I didn’t want to take it super seriously and wanted to focus on my family…I have a certain way that I want to parent and individual competition doesn’t support that at the moment,” she said. 

And although she said she “would never go team,” as she is a much more “solo-natured person,” suddenly it seemed like a good option.

At the same time, Newbury, who hasn’t competed at the Games since 2019, and Porter had been talking about creating a team for several months, and then Kara’s husband Matt Saunders “randomly chatted to James and mentioned maybe I would be interested,” she said. From there, “it kind of just came together.”

As for training, both Saunders and Newbury live on the Gold Coast, so it’s easy for them to train together regularly, but the rest of the team plans to get together for Saturday sessions “here or there,” and for the Open and Quarterfinals.

  • “We won’t force it…It will really just come down to our schedules and we all have businesses and then I’ve got the two kids,” Saunders explained. “We are all super chill and happy to work on our own stuff and come together as we can.”

Saunders isn’t concerned that they won’t be training together more frequently, as they know each other well and they’re all on the same page.

  • “I have known and hung out with James and Khan for so long now, We are all old dogs. Emily is the new addition but has a really cool vibe that we’re after, but she still works super hard. We’re definitely the work hard, play hard at the same time type of team. I think we all work best like this,” she said.

The big picture: After years of competing individually and having serious success on the world stage, including finishing second at the Games in 2017, competing with a team this year “just feels right,” Saunders said.

  • “I’m really just looking forward to using my fitness, socializing with the crew here, and hopefully heading over to Texas to see all my favorite people again,” she said.

She added: “We won’t take it easy by any means, but we don’t have intense attitudes or goals. We show up with our best and do our best like we’ve done for years.”

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