CrossFit as a sport is young — incredibly young — so it’s still difficult to gain perspective on athlete accomplishments over the years. Consistency changes definitions every year, and while it seems like we’ve been following the Open-Regionals-Games format for awhile now, it’s really only been six years of that qualification structure, and only 10 years of CrossFit Games overall. Over the course of that decade, the most impressive feat of competitive fitness remains Rich Froning’s back-to-back-to-back-to-back Games wins — but Becca Voigt’s qualification streak might be a closer second than most people think.
Every year since 2008, Becca Voigt has managed to stay not only relevant in the fledgling sport, but competitive. No, she hasn’t always finished at the top of the pack at the Games (though this year, her supposed weakness in the Olympic lifts seems to be less of a deterrent than ever). But while the top 15 or so Games finishers get most of the glory and camera time, just getting there has been a slog since around 2010.
And it’s not as though Voigt has to stay healthy, mobile, and conditioned for just one weekend per year. She’s got to make it through an increasingly competitive Open, monstrously stacked Regionals, and last-woman-standing Games season that ultimately lasts the better part of six months.
— CrossFit (@CrossFit) May 16, 2016
By the time Voigt — or any top CrossFit athlete, for that matter — is able to catch a rest after the Games, they must immediately resume a high volume of training or risk falling behind a pack of experienced veterans and hungry up-and-comers. Each year, competitors get stronger, faster, and fitter, and Voigt has continued to make progress across all three domains to keep up with other exercisers 15 years (or more) her junior.
Oh, and she’s also competed on and coached CrossFit Invitational teams, so it’s not like she hides away to train in secret for the entirety of the every-shortening “off” season. Andrea Ager made a solid point a few days ago in one of our Facebook Live streams discussion Regionals strategy: For nearly a decade, Becca Voigt has put just about everything on hold in order to succeed in competitive fitness, while still finding time to run the gym she owns. And while Games purses continue to climb and extend to finishers outside the Top 5, qualifying and competing hardly begins to cover living expenses for a year, let alone the additional financial costs associated with performing at such a high level.
And sometime in the past year, she also found the time to get married. In contrast, the BarBend Team has trouble planning lunch.
It’s a lesson in prioritization few outside of professional sports can truly understand and appreciate. (I know I can’t.)
Nine years at the top of her sport. That’s several years longer than the average pro football career in a sport where the average competitor age seems to creep younger and younger every season.
At 35, Voigt is stronger than we’ve ever seen her — during Event 1 of the 2016 Regionals, she hit her snatch PR (175 lbs) twice to complete the event. And she’s already gone on record — emphatically — saying she plans on competing for a 10th qualification next year. So while Voigt may be the prototypical “one to watch” for female masters athletes, she’s still got plenty of determination, skill, and ability in the open category.
Voigt isn’t the flashiest athlete, she’s never the strongest woman in the field, and while she’s got more experience than any other Games athlete in history, her movements rarely if ever blow me away.
But if there’s one thing that’s predictable about The CrossFit Games, it’s that being pretty good at everything can be enough to be great.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.