Two San Antonio Athletes Compete in the CrossFit Games: Abbie Domit and Courtnei Lopez
Two San Antonio women are about to embark on one of the most grueling fitness competitions in the world. Starting August 1st, Abigail Domit and Courtnei Lopez will lift heavy, run fast, swim, do gymnastics at a high level and so much more in order to earn the title of “Fittest on Earth” in their divisions at the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games.
“‘I know I can do this,’” Domit said. “I know that this is what I'm here for from start to finish.”
The CrossFit Games is the culmination of a season that began in February with the Open, followed by the online Quarterfinals, then Semifinals, and finally the Games. The Open is an online competition where athletes complete prescribed workouts over several consecutive weeks and submit their scores to be ranked on the leaderboard.
Athletes have to be at least 14 years old and can compete in 36 divisions depending on age and gender. An athlete can compete as an individual, teen, master, adaptive athlete, or as part of a team. This year, over 320,000 athletes from around the globe participated in the Open.
Courtnei's Journey to the Games
Courtnei Lopez, a Reagan High School graduate who trains at CrossFit Lethal, placed 5th in the Women’s Multi-Extremity Adaptive Division, securing herself a spot to compete in the Games in Madison, Wisconsin.
“It was stressful, to say the least,” Lopez said. “Being that I could see where I was placed on the leaderboard, all of us were pretty neck and neck for a minute and I lost sleep for a good portion of those weeks waiting to find out if I was going to make it to the Games.”
The CrossFit Games began including adaptive athletes in competition in 2021. There are 16 adaptive divisions, eight men’s and eight women’s divisions. This year, the top five male and female athletes in the Lower, Upper, and Multi-Extremity divisions are invited to Madison for the Games. Athletes in the Vision, Short Stature, Intellectual, Seated with hip mobility, and Seated without hip mobility divisions will be invited to compete in the Games for the first time in 2024, "as long as the divisions have enough participation to allow for a competitive field."
Multi-Extremity division athletes, like Lopez, have been diagnosed with a neurological issue like ataxia and hypertonia, which “presents as an increase in muscle tension and a reduced ability of a muscle to stretch caused by damage to the central nervous system,” according to the CrossFit Games Adaptive Athlete Policy.
Lopez says her hypertonia presents itself through shoulder spasms, tremors, and vestibular migraines. She also had surgery that required screws on both feet which has led to the loss of feeling, balance, and coordination issues. “I feel like there’s times where I'm walking and it's like, ‘whoa,’ it's like I'm on a boat”, Lopez said. “It's been a lot to deal with since I was a young kid. But now I've been able to find ways to cope with it.”
Lopez, 26, had her best performance of the Open in the first workout, 23.1. For this workout, female athletes in the Multi-Extremity division had to complete as many repetitions as possible in 14 minutes of 60 calories on the rower, 50 sit-ups, 40 dumbbell front squats with 35 lbs. dumbbells, 30 dumbbell cleans, and 20 single-leg squats. Lopez completed 205 reps and finished third in the event and 5th overall.
Courtnei and her four division competitors, two of whom are also from Texas, will all be making their Games debuts this year.
“You never know what you are capable of,” Lopez said. “You push yourself to your limits and one day you could end up somewhere you never thought you'd be. And that's what happened to me.”
Abigail Makes It to the Games
Abigail Domit, a Brandeis High School and UTSA grad, will also be making her first trip to Madison as an individual athlete. Individual athletes are considered the most elite athletes in the sport.
Domit placed 13th in the Open this year, a spot that surprised her. “I would’ve been totally happy just being, in like the top hundred or whatever,” Domit said, an attainable goal seeing as she got to the Semifinals in 2022.
“So I was like, ‘Oh wow, OK, that's a good start.’ It gave me a nice confidence boost going into the Quarterfinals. and then going into Semifinals.”
After the Open, the top 10 percent of individual athletes were invited to the virtual Quarterfinals. In order to advance to the Semifinal round, Domit, who trains at Lone Star Crossfit, had to place in the top 60 in the North America West region during the Quarterfinals. After enduring five workouts in three days that included high-volume muscle-ups, crossovers with the jump rope, chest-to-wall handstand pushups, and more, Domit placed 27th in the region, assuring her a spot in the Semifinal.
The North America West Semifinals were held at the Pasadena Convention Center in California from May 25-28 and only the top ten individual women won a ticket to the Games. Domit’s weekend started off with a 21st and 20th place finish on Day 1. On Day 2, she started off with a 26th place finish but she said event four was the turning point for her.
“I wasn't in a hole, but I wasn't in a qualifying position yet,” Domit said. “And so when we got to that turning point there were two back-to-back events. So it was an easy way to get quick points and I was like, ‘All right, I need to just make a decision. Am I doing this or not?’”
Event 4 was an 800-meter run into a One-Rep-Max Snatch, a movement where an athlete lifts the barbell from the ground to overhead in one continuous motion. Domit snatched 195 lbs, winning her a ninth-place finish. After a two-minute reset period, event five consisted of 8 snatches at 125 lbs followed by an 800-meter run. Domit finished in three minutes 24 seconds, earning her fourth place in the event and her best finish of the weekend. On Day 3, she placed 16th in Event 6 and 15th in Event 7, earning her 8th place overall and securing her spot in the Games.
“When they announced my name I knew I was going to be a little emotional,” Domit said. “I knew I was going to get teary-eyed, but I was also surprised because I ended up moving up a spot from the last event. That was pretty cool.”
Three years ago, Domit and Lopez could not have imagined themselves competing at this level.
Abigail started doing CrossFit because her now-husband Antun signed her up behind her back, thinking she would be good at it.
At first, she didn’t want to do it but fell in love with the sport because of its competitiveness.
“I loved the, like, constant variation. There's a lot of skill involved…” Domit said. “It's a mix of everything and you have to be very athletic to do it.”
Lopez, on the other hand, was looking for an outlet when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She just wanted to get back into shape. “At first it was, it was pretty tough,” Lopez admitted. “I've never worked out that hard in my life, and I ended up loving it.”
Lopez ended up loving it so much that she began to enter local competitions.
“Once you get that competition bug in you, all bets are off,” Lopez said. “You're going to keep wanting to do one more, then another one and another one. And now that they have Adaptive divisions in the games, I said, “You know what? Let's just see where we stand.”
“When I went to Semifinals last year, it kind of felt surreal and I was trying to figure out if I like really belonged and maybe felt intimidated,” Domit said. “And then towards the end of the week and I was like, you know, yeah, I have earned my spot here… It's not my time right now, but next year I know that they'll announce my name.”
Since the end of their 2022 season, both athletes committed themselves to more rigorous training to be ready for 2023.
Domit and Lopez workout two or three times a day.
A day could start with a swim or cardio in the morning, a lifting session in the afternoon, and an evening workout that could involve gymnastics in order to hit all the skills needed for a well-rounded CrossFit Games competitor.
In order to fuel themselves for such a heavy workload they both eat a lot. About five or six meals a day. Breakfast can be oatmeal and a protein shake after their first workout, then a snack, a lean lunch consisting of chicken or fish followed by another snack such as peanut butter rice cakes and fruit, and a lean dinner or two.
All that and routine physical therapy is how these women have prepared to compete to become the “Fittest on Earth.”
Now it’s Games time.
"Once you get on the floor, it's just like a very euphoric experience,” Domit said. “What other worries I had and things I wasn't able to do, I'm doing it now. Like, I got so much more pressure, but in a very good way.”
And it isn’t just about winning the Games, the money, and the bragging rights. The competitors build camaraderie throughout the season. There are over 450 CrossFit affiliates in Texas and more than 40 in the San Antonio area.
“I'm just excited to be there and meet the people I've been talking to for, I mean, months at this point,” Lopez said. “My competitors and I are establishing a great relationship and I'm excited to compete at a higher level."
The CrossFit Games will be held in Madison, Wisconsin from August 1-6th. A livestream will be broadcast through the CrossFit Games website.