Six-Time Gold Medalist Finds New Home in Adaptive CrossFit Community
February 12 POWERED BY
Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up. Six-time Olympic gold medalist, Amy Van Dyken severed her spinal cord in 2014. Her roommate at the hospital was Kevin Ogar and she soon found CrossFit; Alec Zirkenbach has her story. And, Tommy Marquez caught up with Lukas Högberg to discuss his strategy for the 2019-2020 Sanctionals season. Today:
Van Dyken finds a new competitive home in the adaptive CrossFit community.
Lukas Högberg: “I am not an Open athlete.”
2020 CrossFit Games tickets now on sale for eligible affiliates.
CrossFit Inc. to match Australian CrossFit Championship’s type 2 diabetes initiative dollar-for-dollar
“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.” — Jean Vanier
Six-Time Gold Medalist Finds New Home in Adaptive CrossFit Community
Six-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Amy Van Dyken’s incredible athletic career has been chronicled many times over. It’s a never-ending list of accolades from her earlier years as an NCAA Female Swimmer of the Year to the pinnacle of her career as the “Most Successful Athlete” at the 1996 Olympic Games with four gold medals. She won another two gold medals in 2000 and had her own Wheaties box.
All of those awards and medals now pale in comparison to the significance of her close-knit CrossFit community in Phoenix, AZ.
Van Dyken:“The power you will find at the CrossFit gym is something that can’t be found anywhere else! You have people who are there to better themselves physically and mentally. They know that by helping each other, everyone gets stronger…as a community.”
The crash: In 2014, Van Dyken crashed her ATV while returning home from dinner at a friend’s house. The crash severed her spinal cord and left her paralyzed at the T11 vertebra. Life obviously became vastly different for the perpetually energetic and upbeat swimming star. Recovery was a long and often discouraging process until she started receiving support from a new community: Adaptive CrossFit.
Van Dyken says prior to her spinal cord injury, swimming would provide her solace by following the long blue line at the bottom of the pool during training. It was her form of mental and emotional self-care. But after her injury, swimming, which had once been her main form of physical and emotional release, no longer provided peace.
Van Dyken: “Swimming wasn’t the same anymore. It’s not my happy place. I needed to find a happy place…and there was this huge ginger in my hospital room telling me that he and his friends were training at a CrossFit gym.” Van Dyken is lovingly referring to Kevin Ogar, who had also become paralyzed from a spinal cord injury that same year (2014). She continued, “And my happy place became the CrossFit gym.”
Ogar and the adaptive community rallied to support Van Dyken and show her a path to a physically and mentally healthy life through CrossFit. For so long, Van Dyken had trained solo in the sport of swimming. Training meant long hours in the water by herself. Sure she had teammates, but often they were competing to take her place in the Olympic Trials and Games. There was always an undercurrent of competitive tension.
Conversely, Van Dyken now says that the very same people who she competes with, in a friendly manner, are also those who provide her the most support:
“When I firststarted training CrossFit, the community really took me under their wing. They gave me a place to laugh, cry and to know it’s fine to not always be okay. Without their support, I’m not sure where I would be right now,” she said.
Through the CrossFit community, her coaches and friends provide her an invigorating form of care no matter what her time was, or how well she performs in workouts.
Van Dyken: “All of my closest friends are at CrossFit Blade, which I never thought would happen. I now look forward to waking up and getting to the gym to throw down with my family. It’s the best feeling! Okay, winning gold in the Olympics was a cool feeling too, in a way, they are the same because before I was training to win for my country, now I’m training to get my life back.”
Van Dyken began her training at CrossFit 480 and now calls CrossFit Blade home. She has even started competing again, this time in adaptive CrossFit. Last year she competed in the 2019 WheelWOD Championships, the “CrossFit Games” for adaptive CrossFit athletes. She came in second and the irony is not lost on Amy Van Dyken, the girl who only ever earns gold. Van Dyken has jokingly vowed to redeem herself and is training hard as she will again compete this year at Wodapalooza and at the 2020 WheelWOD Championships hosted by the Granite Games.
Lukas Hӧgberg Looks for 2020 Games Qualification through Sanctionals
To say the 2019 CrossFit Games did not go according to plan is an understatement for Lukas Hӧgberg. After finishing in third place at the 2018 Games, the 29-year old Swede looked poised to push for yet another podium spot and the title of “Fittest on Earth.” But despite an impressive 21st finish in the world-wide Open and earning his Games invitation as the national champion for Sweden, Hӧgberg placed 17th in 2019.
The Morning Chalk Up’s Tommy Marquez sat down to chat with Hӧgberg while in Barcelona for The Freakest Challenge. Here are a few highlights:
On his decision to not compete in the Open: “To be honest I do not enjoy the Open anymore at all, the first two years was a lot of fun but now it’s five weeks of mentally feeling bad. I’m not an Open athlete.”
On his Sanctional strategy for this season: “For this competition (Strength in Depth) the goal was to do a competition. I didn’t think I was going to qualify, it was a goal, but more of the focus for me was go there and enjoy the competition, have fun and just focus on myself and not put too much pressure on myself.”
On his next Sanctional appearance: “Probably the German Throwdown and maybe Egypt (ELFIT CrossFit Championship). Also the Rogue Invitational, that’s for sure.”
On what he needs to make this season successful: “If I don’t feel well mentally, from stress or whatever, I’m going to perform bad. If I’m not stressed, I can do very, very well at the Games.”
The full interview includes Hӧgberg’s take on his move from Sweden to Spain, his sauna experience with Jonne Koski and a special appearance by Noah Ohlsen.
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Pre-Sale Tickets for 2020 CrossFit Games Available Now for Eligible Affiliates
Affiliate ticket pre-sale for the 2020 CrossFit Games begins today, Wednesday, February 12. CrossFit affiliates that had 12 or more athletes sign up to participate in the 2020 Open have early access to the CrossFit ticketing website on Ticketmaster.
Through the use of an access code, affiliates will be able to purchase up to eight Festival plus Coliseum Ticket Packages and an unlimited number of Festival-Only Packages. The pre-sale ends on Sunday, February 16 at 11:59 PM PST.
The CrossFit Games website has further information on the pre-sale and how to access the affiliate code.
The remaining tickets will go on sale to the general public on Monday, February 17.
CrossFit Inc. to Match Australian CrossFit Championship Type 2 Diabetes Initiative
Last month we brought you news of the Australian CrossFit Championship’s (ACC), plan to use ticket revenue from its 2020 event to sponsor gym memberships for Type 2 diabetics.
The initiative has gained the support of CrossFit Inc., who today announced it’ll match the ACC dollar-for-dollar. Now, two individuals will receive a three-month membership at an Australian affiliate for every 100 tickets sold.
In its press release, CrossFit Inc. wrote: “As recognized by the ACC’s leadership, the mutual relationship between individuals and their local CrossFit affiliate is the locus of transformation for millions of lives around the world … ACC’s investment in the Australian community thus exemplifies the local spirit of the Sanctionals.”
Event organizers took to Facebook to praise CrossFit’s contribution: “We are SO pumped that CrossFit HQ has jumped on board in support of our recent#acc20 diabetes initiative” and encouraged more people to nominate deserving recipients.
In announcing the initiative, Event Director, Darren Coughlan, said the focus of the event remains to highlight the core values of CrossFit: “We know the real work is done in CrossFit Affiliates all over Australia for the other 51 weeks of the year, for no accolades.”
While health might be the focus, the event’s still likely to put on a good show with James Newbury, Khan Porter and Jessica Coughlan already on the roster. Team Mayhem Independence will also travel to Australia in an attempt to punch their ticket, after missing out on a qualifying spot in 2019.
The Morning Chalk Up will be in attendance at the Australian CrossFit Championship as part of ourmedia partnership with the event. We will be providing recaps, analysis, videos and exclusive access.
There’s still time to nominate a recipient, who could receive three months of free membership to an Australian-based CrossFit affiliate. The sponsorship also includes free nutrition support with follow-up consultations to be provided by GCS Training — one of ACC’s title sponsors.
Ask your affiliate to notify ACC by emailing [email protected] with the following details: The affiliate’s name, location, contact details and social media handles. Include the following information about the nominee: contact details, social media accounts and other information believed to be relevant.
Nominees will be reviewed on March 15. The winners will be notified shortly after.
Sanctional News and Notes
The Saudi Sports for All Federation has announced that they will sponsor Saudi Arabia’s two national champions, Amal AlSharani and Monsour AlSughayer, at the 2020 CrossFit games.
Wodapalooza has released another workout. Prepare for deadlifts and burpees!
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