“The only bad workout is the one that didn't happen.”- Unknown
Twin CrossFit Teens Make a Comeback after Being Hospitalized
The 2021 CrossFit Games was the very peak of existence for 15-year-olds Rafael and Rodrigo Candeias. Between meeting the Panchik brothers and other notable athletes at check-in, getting their NOBULL gear, Rodrigo carrying the Portuguese flag at the Opening Ceremony, and Rafael’s third-place finish in the final event, it was a moment they both say they’ll remember forever.
Rafael and Rodrigo left their first CrossFit Games with a sixth and tenth place finish under their belts, respectively, and were eager to start making their way towards the 16-17 division. However, while competing in the Online Qualifier for the 2022 Madrid Championship, both boys fell ill and were eventually hospitalized with mononucleosis.
For a month, the twins were unable to even walk or perform normal daily tasks without feeling dizzy or weak. After that, it took an additional three months to get back to fighting condition, which Rafael says took a huge mental toll on them.
Rafael: “It was really hard because we had the ability to do (CrossFit very well), and we started like we were new at CrossFit again.”
When they were able to begin training at full throttle again, the boys invested everything into getting back to the CrossFit Games–training five hours a day, even. This is an integral part of their strategy, they say. While they may not be the most genetically talented athletes in the stacked field of 16-17 Boys, they can decide how much effort they put in.
“We started training more because we are not the best but we know we can be the ones that work harder,” Rafael said.
The Candeias twins’ performance is a full family effort. They’ve been coached by their father since the very beginning, which they say has been a huge motivator. Rodrigo said that while it can feel like a lot of pressure sometimes, they love having their father as a coach because they have such a deep connection and understand each other.
“We always think he has big expectations for us, so we do better because he’s our dad and we don’t want to disappoint him,” Rodrigo said. “I think it’s a positive thing sometimes because we have a better relationship with him so we can get more confident.”
Of course, the boys have each other in training as well. They say that it can be annoying sometimes since they live together, are in the same class, and train together every single day, but it’s also a leg up on the competition that not many other teens get, training with someone else on a regular basis.
“We think it helps us because we always compete with each other and that’s something that other teens that are training alone don’t have that competition with other teen athletes,” Rodrigo said.
Rafael came in 9th place in the Open and Rodrigo finished in 38th place, so both boys took on the Age Group Quarterfinals last week.
In their final year as teen competitors, they have their eyes on making it back to Madison, Wisconsin after making a full recovery from their illness.
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Mayhem Athletes Storm into Semifinals, Claim More Than Ten Percent of Qualifying Spots
CrossFit Mayhem has been a major player in elite fitness for over a decade. What began as a couple of dudes making up their own workouts in a rural barn has grown to thousands of athletes following Mayhem programming across the globe.
Sixty-seven individuals following Mayhem Athlete’s Competitor programming track qualified to the 2023 CrossFit Games Semifinals. With backfills, that increases to an estimated 75 athletes out of the 600 total competing at Semifinals.
That means more than 1 in every 10 Semifinalists belong to Mayhem Nation.
For Mayhem athletes Tyler Christophel, Sam Cournoyer, and Paige Powers, success has come early in the 2023 season. Each of the three athletes earned a personal best worldwide Open finish with 4th, 6th, and 2nd, respectively, and as of leaderboard finalization on Monday, a ticket to the North America East Semifinals in Orlando, FL.
Mayhem's Seth Stovall on Van Life, Saying Goodbye to the Worm, and Going Individual
21-year-old Seth Stovall has already paid his dues in the CrossFit world–moved to Cookeville, Tennessee from his home in California to train at CrossFit Mayhem, lived out of a van through the warmest days and coldest nights, and worked night shifts to fund his upcoming athletic career. However, coming off his rookie year at the CrossFit Games (where he competed on team Mayhem Independence), Stovall is poised and hungry to start his career in the individual division.
“I don’t think (qualifying for the CrossFit Games) is the main goal this year. It’s really just to put my best foot forward,” Stovall said. Since his team from last year all went separate ways, he’s changed up his strategy and started working with Mayhem coach Jake Foster. “It’s a whole learning experience, I’m just learning day by day.”
Of course, there are some growing pains associated with this change, but Stovall says he and his team have taken them all in stride. He says that after he made the choice to go individual, he sat down with Foster and Rich Froning to plan out how he can build on of the foundation he started in the 2022 season.
“Last year was a learning experience for sure. I didn’t know what kind of athlete I was,” Stovall said. “So going into this season, just learning from whatever weaknesses I had last year and really attacking them.”
Stovall cruised through the 2023 Quarterfinals with a 53rd-place finish in the North American East region and will compete in Semifinals next month in Orlando, Florida. He says that his training has largely remained the same since his goals changed, but that the lack of synchro and Worm work has been refreshing, and he says, “I never want to touch that worm again in my life, I really do not.”
Another big change Stovall is making this season? Moving out of his van and into an apartment. He made his home on wheels work when he couldn’t afford anything else after moving to Cookeville, but knew it wasn’t a forever solution. The logistics and hardships of trying to sustain elite performance while living in a sweltering hot or ice-cold van (depending on the time of year) weren’t exactly working in his favor.
“When I would wake up in the morning, sometimes I legitimately could not feel my toes no matter how many layers I put on, I couldn’t get warm enough. And even in the summer when it gets really humid, I would lay on the floor sweating in the middle of the night,” Stovall recalled. “So my recovery, you can imagine how terrible it was.”
Despite everything he’s experienced in the van life, Stovall says he’s grateful for the experience. And even now that he’s moving away from living there full-time, he still drives it every day and won’t rule out going back to it.
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