"In competition, you do what you know ... the more concentrated you are, the better. It is so not worth worrying about the capabilities of your opponents, and if they are better or worse, the true champions, in any circumstances, give the best of themselves."
Latin America has a female dark horse. Marylin Rojas sips her coffee on a Sunday afternoon with a sense of humbleness and relaxation. She tells her story that includes a short CrossFit career, which turned many heads in the Open last year — she placed second in the region.
In 2010, Rojas received a Facebook invite for a local competition. Her first attempt was not exactly what she expected. She was disappointed with her performance and some skills, like double-unders, she just didn’t have.
In December 2011, Rojas heard about the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games Open and began training the following February at the gym where she worked.
Rojas has been a lifelong athlete. She’s participated in track and field, roller-skating at a national level and has a few national titles in powerlifting. Meanwhile, she’s working on her degree in physical education.
“Before getting to know CrossFit workouts, I used to train in circuit, but not against the clock,” Rojas says. “CrossFit went well with my taste in training and developed my skills.”
Despite only one month of training, she did well in the Open.
“I even PR’d in both (Workouts 12.1 and 12.2) and I had never done these movements that much,” Rojas said at the end of last year’s Open.
She earned 12th and third places in her region, respectively, in those workouts, and then followed with a second place finish in 12.3, a third place in 12.4, and another second place in 12.5.
Still considering herself a rookie, Rojas chose to go to Regionals on a team. She competed with Pavel Saenz and the team from CrossFit Santiago. They came in third and fourth in the first two workouts, but did not advance further.
After last year’s Regional, Marco Casali, owner of CrossFit Atakama, approached Rojas about training at his affiliate. Since, Rojas has been training with Atakama Monday through Friday, and sometimes on Sundays when she might throw down a quick workout at Bicentennial Park, just for fun. Her training has been structured and focused so she can continue to develop her skills while at the same time, increase her strength and lifting technique.
Rojas says mental preparation is key. Although she confesses she still gets nervous in competition, stress, generated by adrenaline, is not something that overwhelms her.
"In competition, you do what you know ... the more concentrated you are the better,” she says. “It is so not worth worrying about the capabilities of your opponents, and if they are better or worse, the true champions, in any circumstances, give the best of themselves.”
She is ready to face new challenges in 2013 and feels confident to come in as a dark horse. However, she acknowledges that Tarasa Barnett, Anita Pravatti and Romina “Nega” Ibarra are some of the most powerful competitors in her region.
"The most admirable thing about Tarasa Barnett is the concentration that she has — it is very important. Also, the experience and confidence with which she faces each test,” Rojas says.
Rojas is certain she is doing all she can to prepare.
"I always train at 100 percent, even when I know that I will finish dead, lying on the floor and knowing that the next day, I will not be able move myself,” Rojas says. “Training at that level feels awesome because once you finish, you know that you did it.”
Rojas’ PRs include a 275-lb. back squat, 242-lb. front squat, a 176-lb. clean, 165-lb. clean and jerk, a 121-lb. snatch and a 308-lb. deadlift.