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CrossFit Games 2023: Champion Mindset

August 31, 2023 by

The holy grail of every competitive athlete is 1st place. Poised on the podium's apex, crowned with gold, glorious elation swells in your chest. It's the feeling of success. The top prize in an event is limited to one person. What about everyone else who worked hard day in and day out and fell short of a medal? Did they succeed or fail? It depends if your definition of success is finite.

With a narrow scope, success or failure is the event happening outside of you. Duality categorizes win and loss. Turn inward and define success by how you want to feel about yourself. When you feel like a champion, you manifest greatness.

A champion mindset sees the big picture and knows that success cannot be defined as only 1st place.

Success is achieved by conquering obstacles, both internal and external. Obstacles are a guarantee in life. What determines the outcome is your will to win. Do this by setting goals and working consistently.

Define what success is for you and go for gold!

Laura Horvath stood as champion in a spectacular moment of triumph at the 2023 CrossFit Games. In her decade-long pursuit for gold, Horvath’s resolve was tested each time she met handstand push-ups. In 2022, Laura confronted her nemesis at the 2022 Rogue Invitational in Event 7, Echo Press. Watching Horvath repeatedly kick up, lower, then fail was excruciating. Falling on your face in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers would cause many people to cower in defeat. Laura Horvath didn't doubt her worth. Her concentration held strong amidst adversity. She placed last place in Echo Press yet came back to win the Rogue Invitational proving that success happens when you focus on the end goal not the obstacles placed in the way to that goal.

Again, Laura Horvath came face to face with her relentless arch enemy. Event 3 of the 2023 CrossFit Games, Inverted Medley, Laura received her lowest placement. She won the CrossFit Games. By strengthening weakness you reduce an obstacle's power to defeat.

Failure is the most powerful mental demon when gunning for success. Like Laura, you will meet your own weaknesses. They drop in front of you like a handstand push-up wall and tempt you to quit. The message of ‘you are a failure’ must be rejected with an inner fire of determination.

The commitment to succeed lights a fire deep within. As soon as you set the ambition to succeed, obstructions show up like a fire extinguisher in an attempt to thwart your pursuit. Knowing your greatness is fuel to the fire, igniting you so high nothing can diminish your flame.

Athletes who compete at the CrossFit Games teach the community what it takes to succeed. Their values can be yours if you apply the principles of success to your own life. Their example lights an inferno to climb your own podium to greatness!

Mijail Pedrini
Photo: @crossfitgames

To know that through discipline one has perfect control of themselves is one of the most beautiful sensations.

Mijail Pedrini

Q: What would you like to teach others about overcoming obstacles?

A: Taking my first steps after suffering a stroke was an event that forged me as a person. At the time,  I didn't have independence of movement. It was quite an event. To know that through discipline one has perfect control of themselves is one of the most beautiful sensations. This gives the freedom to go looking for other challenges to conquer.

I was competing as a junior national tennis player with a 140 km /h serve when a blood clot in my brain caused a stroke resulting in total paralysis of the right side of my body. The doctors told my family that it would be difficult for me to step on a tennis court again. When I started my recovery with physiotherapy, the only thing that went through my head was playing tennis again. When I left the hospital, I couldn't walk on my own and I couldn't  raise my arm. 

While competing in tennis, I established the mental attitude to never think I am at a disadvantage and concentrate on winning the match. This mindset is a habit that I've maintained since the stroke disabled me. My resilience got me back onto the tennis court and a bronze medal at the 2023 CrossFit Games.

Obstacles exist but limits are imposed by oneself. I repeat this to the classes I coach at Sense Fitness CrossFit in Montevideo, Uruguay. In my life I have overcome many obstacles. The stroke was my coach. Treating paralysis as a step to reach the ultimate goal of inner fulfillment has elevated me to victory.

Overcome obstacles with @mijailpedrini.

Lauren Farhat
Photo: @crossfitgames

The only way out of the fire is through the fire. 

Lauren Farhat

Q: What is happiness? 

A: Happiness comes from the depths of my own existence. Happiness is the mask beneath the surface that sets your soul on fire. It's discipline. It's dedication. It's derived from the journey of discovering one’s own vulnerability. It comes when you embrace what is most distasteful to you. It's the result of shifting the content of experience into awareness.

With 12 bone lengthening surgeries by age 6 and a foot amputation at age 7, I realized my greatness came from beyond the bounds of my own human entity. This awakening was an invitation to the wellspring of infinite emotions that comes with internal validation. While feelings of joy can be found exterior to the confines of ourselves, when you set out on a quest to honor your true Self, you can transcend objective experience in a way that is decorative to your authentic fulfillment. 

My success as an adaptive athlete is reliant upon the foundation to preserve the structure of my inner happiness. In a life that can so quickly cause wear and tear on an individual, I have found solace in knowing that amidst the chaos, confusion, stress, sadness, loneliness, there is always one person I can resort back to for reassurance—that person is my Highest SelfEven with the most highly-regarded support system, it's the liberating companionship of my Self that has allowed me to navigate hardship with vigor.

To be fueled by genuine passion and internal security, I have found purpose in the face of adversity. I have become obsessed with the process of emerging into the best version of myself. I have tapped into a genre of my being that demands excellence in every single one of my pursuits. I am no longer bogged down by the outcomes of a situation. I look at setbacks with growth in mind and improvement on the horizon. The only way out of the fire is through the fire

CrossFit has provided me with a space to expand my happiness and share it with others, push my limits, embrace the distasteful, and befriend uncertainty. CrossFit challenges my mindset, further teaches me about the value of the journey, brings people into my life who add seismic richness, and makes me smile. Most importantly, CrossFit helped me rediscover Lauren again. If I inspire one person to seek out greatness —I have won my gold medal. 

Be happy with @sololeglolo.

Team Move Fast Lift Heavy
Christian Harris, Chloe Gauvin-David, Winter Rodriguez, Will Carter
Photo @shotbylens

MFLH's mission is crystal clear. We are aiming for nothing short of a podium finish.

Christian Harris

Q:  How does MFLH train effective communication to yield success?

A: Team Move Fast Lift Heavy operates as a singular powerhouse. We are warriors performing at our maximum, fighting for each other to win. Our dedication to tackle uncomfortable conversations is invaluable. The grit and mental toughness of each member of MFLH inspires the rest of the team. Having leadership and rational voices are huge assets. We keep showing up and our progress is phenomenal. As a team we value growth knowning it takes us to the next level.

Our communication wasn’t our strength until we appointed a team captain, Christian Harris. Leadership comes from the top down. Before we hit our workouts, we huddle up, talk strategy, and make sure we're all on the same page. After the session, we break down what went well and what didn't. We are always able to put any differences we have aside and come together to perform. When those inevitable disagreements pop up, we tackle them head-on making sure everyone's voice is heard with the big picture in mind. 

MFLH's mission is crystal clear. We are aiming for nothing short of a podium finish. To get there we execute every move with unwavering determination, giving our all in every single rep. We elevate each other, lead with our hearts, and never hesitate to communicate when support is needed.

We did an exercise to remind us why we rock as a team. Each member of MFLH answered four questions and then shared them with the group. First, we shared our personal goals for the season. Then, what we're gunning for as a team. Next up, we get real and tell each other what we need from our teammates. And finally, we shouted out something awesome about each teammate that makes us proud. A recognition Winter Rodriguez received was: "Training with you pushes me outside my comfort zone. You help our team develop tenacity and drive us beyond our limits.''

Join the MFLH team @movefastliftheavy

Pat Vellner
Photo: @crossfitgames

I try not to get too caught up in drama from other lanes.

Pat Vellner

Q: How do you address athlete concerns and be a leader amongst your peers?

A: During the competition, there are always mistakes or small complaints that happen. The best way to manage them is to take time after the event to address the problem and decide if there is anything that can be done about it. Mourn, but mourn quickly. If it means moving better in the future, you make a note. If it’s something you should appeal, then do that right away and get it off your mind. You move on to the next task. Stay in your lane. Don't look backwards. You’re not going that way.

If there are larger problems or errors that affect many athletes or have major implications to fairness and safety, I make note of them to revisit after the competition has ended. Through the Professional Fitness Athlete Association (PFAA), I use negative experiences to advocate for changes that may avoid similar problems in the future.

Due to the work of the PFAA, the CrossFit Games has implemented changes that improve athlete competition experience. These changes include: enforcing equipment rules - checking belt widths; ensuring fairness of the tests - staggered distance start to normalize run distance in Helen, having different bar heights available to accommodate tall athletes, and expanding prize payouts - paying out deeper down the games field instead of just increasing payouts at the top.

Learn how to advocate  @pvellner.

*Cover image: Team Move Fast Lift Heavy, photo: @shotbylens

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