I haven’t cried in years, so it was strange when I felt myself tearing up on Saturday – stranger still because I was living a Simply Red lyric on account of a man I barely know accomplishing a personal best.
When Frik O’Callaghan approached the 60kg bar for his second round of snatch on Saturday morning, he morphed from the huffing and puffing man he was the night before into a focused red-faced demon. The class rallied around him and we were treated to 30 reps of magic.
But Frik’s 142 reps wasn’t the only miracle I witnessed. There was 39-year-old Nathan Jacobs who muscled up 21 60kg snatches and Mohamed Zayne, two weeks into CrossFit, who I cheered through his full workout (100 reps).
The most touching thing, though, was that each one of those champions stuck around cheer me through my 13.1. When I tweaked my back on my 7th 35kg snatch, I had a legitimate reason to quit, but didn’t because I had a support system in place. And that’s when the gravity of the CrossFit games open workout’s tragic flaw hit me.
To put the snatch in context: the most gruesome Olympic weightlifting injury videos are from the snatch event. This is a technique that people train their entire lives to perfect and I was doing it within 15-hours of posting a PB of 40kg. Now I had to lift 35kg. 30 times. After blitzing 40 burpees.
As much as I love the thrill of competition, and as much as I have come to love the sport of CrossFit, I should not have been allowed to push on after my 7th rep mistake (I went too far back and, instead of dropping the bar I held on and brought it back).
I’m not blaming anyone, and all I picked up was a slight back strain and a nasty knot in a muscle, but had it not been for the competitive atmosphere and surging adrenaline, I would’ve been more responsible. I lost myself in the moment and put the WOD over my own safety.
Looking at the leaderboard (I’m 71 624th in the world and 763rd in Africa), I read the names of tens of thousands of athletes who didn’t make 100 reps. The sub-70 achievers intrigue me the most because I imagine fatties like me, with jobs and families, who’s disapproving wives now have to wipe their arses because they’re in traction because of a spinal injury. Poor bastards who put their egos above common sense.
I’ll still compete, but I’ll be a lot more cautious from now on. I got off lightly with 13.1 and hope that 13.2 won’t dish up another specialist technique.
If you’re competing, I know it’s helluva fun, but please be safe.