Morning Chalk Up Community

Chalk It Up To Greatness: Jeremie Perera

June 16, 2023 by
Breitz Games 2022, Photo Damien Kilani / DK Prod / DPPI

PUUUULLLLLLL! Spencer Panchik takes a Herculean heave on a rope attached to a mat holding 225 pounds. The weight is teetering off the side onto a grippy rubber floor. 225 pounds feels like 500. Event 1 of the North American Semifinal looks disastrous for Panchik. Unphased by a 51st place in event one, Spencer takes a fighting chance to qualify for the CrossFit Games. With tenacity, Panchik battles out each consecutive event qualifying by the skin of his teeth to claim the final spot on the leaderboard.

When I asked him about the equipment malfunction and how he overcame defeating thoughts to qualify for the Games, he replied as an elite CrossFit athlete would:

“Our sport is constantly evolving and every athlete will face some kind of challenge in a competition. As athletes we prepare to face these challenges because that is what CrossFit prepares us for…the unknown. I know how much time I put into my preparation inside and outside the gym in order to show up as the best athlete that I can be. In my head the only option is to fight till the final event and where the points fall they fall. But I can look back knowing I did everything in my power to qualify.” 

Spencer Panchik

Despite the added resistance, Panchik fought with every ounce of effort until the end. This is the CrossFit mindset that influences every athlete in the community inside and outside of the box. 

Adaptive athletes in our sport face a resistance similar to Spencer’s. Every tug takes added effort and it often feels like nothing is moving. 

Jeremy Perera prepared, for battle.

Jeremie Perera is one of these athletes. In 2018 when Jeremie was only 29, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is a degenerative disease of the brain and spinal cord that affects the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body. 

Perera was no stranger to life coming crashing down around him. Ten years prior to his diagnosis of MS, his beloved father passed away suddenly. Jeremie started CrossFit during this time as a way to cope and find connection. He built a support system that was there for him when he faced the mightiest of challenges that caused him to completely revise his life. 

Like Panchik, Perera takes life one heave at a time giving all of his effort to overcome this debilitating disease. Instead of shrinking in defeat, Jeremie uses CrossFit to keep his body at optimal function. In order to help change the way people look at MS, particularly with regard to invisible disabilities, Jeremie set himself the challenge of qualifying for the 2022 CrossFit Games. Perera exceeded his goal placing 3rd in the multi-extremity adaptive division. 

Jeremie Perera’s unwavering mindset is a stunning example of facing monumental obstacles and fighting for greatness. He takes a humble approach to his accomplishments competing not for recognition but to send a message to others that CrossFit is a welcoming place for people with disabilities.

Jeremie Perera, 2022 CrossFit Games

MCU: Jeremie, tell the Chalk Up community about yourself. 

My name is Jeremie Perera, I am 35. I have always had a passion for new technologies, so I moved to Lyon in 2008 to study a Master’s degree in computer science, which I then completed with a Master's degree in business.

MCU: How has CrossFit helped you build a strength of mind to face challenges? 

The values of hard work and rigor transmitted by this sport have become my daily motivation and I try to transmit them to my teams in my professional life.

I've learned we're not masters of our own destiny, and that we need to know how to adapt to the events that life throws at us.

We're not masters of our own destiny and we need to know how to adapt to the events life throws at us.

Jeremie Perera

MCU: How has Multiple Sclerosis affected you?

My world collapsed in an instant! Two acute attacks in 2018 and 2019 left me unable to stand or sit, and with lasting side effects such as headaches, nausea, and loss of balance.

Following many weeks of convalescence, I had to train my body and brain to stand up straight.

Part of this re-education involved CrossFit. This sport gradually enabled me to regain a sense of stability in space and an iron morale. Today, it continues to keep me in shape and push back the symptoms of MS.

MS is a stigmatized disease, and people with the disease have to deal with stigma and injustice in their daily lives.

Breitz Games 2022
Photo Damien Kilani / DK Prod / DPPI

MCU: What role does CrossFit play in your life? 

CrossFit is much more than a sport, it's a real community. It helped me to forge myself, to assert myself to gain self-confidence and to surpass what I thought possible. The values transmitted by this sport have become my daily motivation and I try to transmit them in my life.

MCU: What do you think about the changes CrossFit has made to the adaptive divisions, eliminating athletes from qualifying based on the severity of their disability? 

I hope Crossfit keeps the adaptive division and makes it grow!

If the adaptive category is redefined and I no longer qualify, I can understand that. I've met other people with neuromuscular disabilities, and in my misfortune, I consider myself lucky. There are people far more deserving than I.

Breitz Games 2022
Photo Damien Kilani / DK Prod / DPPI

MCU: What steps are you taking to work through current difficulties? 

I try to live a normal life, but for now I listen to my body. If I feel tired, I try to slow down in my job and my training. 

It is not always easy to see your friends to get better day after day knowing that you cannot follow them because your body can’t endure their training … but I keep training and I get better.

MCU: What do you hope to accomplish in building awareness for MS and other neurological disorders? 

My objective is fourfold : 

  • Highlight MS and the handicaps it causes on a daily basis.
  • Enhance the image of people with MS.
  • Show people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases that CrossFit is a formidable tool for attenuating the degenerative effects of the disease, and live a "normal" life.
  • Raise funds for MS research. 

Follow Jeremie on Instagram @jerempere

Donate to Multiple Sclerosis Research at ARSEP Foundation

Get the Newsletter

For a daily digest of all things CrossFit. Community, Competitions, Athletes, Tips, Recipes, Deals and more.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.