In early 2012, Sam Briggs was mentally prepared for the CrossFit Games season. This experienced athlete, a full-time firefighter from Manchester, England, had jumped from 19th place in the 2010 Reebok CrossFit Games to fourth place in the 2011 Games. She placed third worldwide in the 2011 Open. Expectations were high for 2012.
Briggs’ body had other ideas. At an Olympic lifting competition in November 2011, Briggs felt a twinge in her knee on the final jerk, and the next day could hardly walk. Unable to run, Briggs kept training. In March 2012 she did the first workout of the CrossFit Games Open, completing 133 burpees in seven minutes.
After she submitted her score, Briggs’ coach and physical therapist called a meeting. They sat her down and said, “We’re pulling you out of the Games.”
Running is one of Briggs’ strengths, and her coach knew Briggs couldn’t hold her own against the world’s best CrossFit athletes if she couldn’t run. The wise choice was to avoid incurring further injury and give her body a chance to recover.
It was an emotional, heart-wrenching decision, but Briggs took their advice and announced she was withdrawing from the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games.
Briggs then went for a second opinion and discovered she had fractured her right kneecap.
“I had various scans and saw numerous specialists, but due to the original misdiagnosis, the fragment had already calcified so my right kneecap is now in two pieces,” Briggs says.
Briggs’ doctor gave her the all-clear to start back up with training, warning her she would experience varying levels of discomfort. “I have been working hard with a movement specialist, James Jowsey, to find ways of doing things that puts less stress on the knee,” Briggs says.
Briggs tried to focus on her rehab, and not dwell on what could have been. Knowing it would be a difficult weekend, Briggs escaped to the Gran Canaria while the CrossFit Games were taking place over the summer.
“I kept an eye on all the results whilst we were there, but I couldn't bring myself to watch any of the events,” she says. “I can't really say how well I think I could have done because it can all change on the day. The triathlon would have suited me and my training, but just like Númi I could have suffered in the heat. I have done a few of the WODs and loved the programming, but my times were for me to judge my rehab rather than how I would have compared.”
The best news is that Briggs is back to running. She plans to compete in a cross-country race for the Fire Service versus the Army. “Not sure how fast I will be, but I'm looking forward to testing myself,” she says.
Briggs won’t have to wait until 2013 to compete against the top CrossFit athletes. On October 13, Team USA will take on Team Europe in the first-ever CrossFit Invitational, presented by Reebok.
Team USA includes Kristan Clever, Rebecca Voigt, Julie Foucher, Matt Chan, Jason Khalipa and Rich Froning.
Team Europe includes Katrin Davidsdottir, Briggs, Annie Thorisdottir, Mikko Aronpää, Frederick Aegidius and Númi Snær Katrínarson. The competition will be held in London and shown live on Eurosport.
After missing out on the 2012 Games, Briggs is ready.
“I am really looking forward to getting back into competing. It feels like it's been a lifetime, so fingers crossed I can prove I'm ready to be back!”