Placing fifth overall in his first appearance at the 2013 Asia Regional, Ben “Speedy” Thompson is back again in 2014. This time with his sights on Asia’s top spot. Dissatisfied with his performance at the end of last year’s competition in Seoul, Korea, he has claimed he will “absolutely crush” this year’s Open and subsequent regional.
Born and raised in Queenstown, New Zealand, Thompson developed a love for running from an early age. However, due to knee injuries at age 14, he soon picked up cycling and from there began his passion for triathlons, multi-sport competitions and rugby—the national sport of Thompson’s home country.
However, it was not this love for running or triathlons that earned him his nickname, Speedy.
“It was given to me by one of my good friends during my university days, when I was on crutches at one point,” Thompson recounted. “On a night out with my mates, while we were out walking to a pub, I managed to outrun them. That was where the name ‘Speedy’ came from and it’s sort of stuck ever since.”
Eventually, at 21, the strains of training for multiple sports took a toll on his body, and Thompson had to make a decision to put the brakes on his training. He soon ventured into a profession as a personal trainer.
“Funnily enough, it was right after watching the movie 300 that I found CrossFit,” he said. “I wanted to find out how they trained. I was then introduced to CrossFit through a colleague I worked with. The first-ever workout that I did was the Hero workout Josh with overhead squats and pull-ups.”
Three years later, going into the 2012 Australia Regional, Thompson led the New Zealand contingent as the highest ranked Kiwi. Although Chad Mackay went on to win that year, as luck would have it during regionals, Thompson was offered an opportunity to coach in Kuwait, bringing CrossFit to the oil-rich nation with an untapped potential for growth in the sport.
Today, Thompson trains at CrossFit 965, coaching group classes and personal training sessions throughout the day, and working up to 50 hours a week.
“The climate has to be one of the top challenges. Going from training in a cold environment to extreme heat has been difficult. I used to really enjoy training outside in the summer,” he said, with a smile on his face.
Thompson proved to be a serious contender during last year’s Asia Regional, taking first place in Events 3, 4 and 6. However, not one to sit on his laurels, he is fully aware of the work that lies ahead for this Games season. Thompson favors training two to three times a day, regularly referring to workouts from CrossFit Mayhem and NC Labs in the U.S.
“I still love workouts that are gymnastics focused and I especially love anything with running,” he said. “The workouts from the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games were right up my alley.”
With a Helen time of 6:36, it’s no wonder Thompson is hoping for more running incorporated into upcoming workouts.
Although CrossFit is still in its infancy in Kuwait, Thompson has adapted well to the local and cultural expectations of coaching in his new home, and is committed to being part of the growth in the coming few years. For now, he programs his classes by regularly scanning different CrossFit websites and shares workout ideas with most of the top 10 athletes from last year’s Asia Regional.
“I am in contact with Michael Mogard regularly and he is a great athlete. He is going to be a tough competitor this year,” Thompson said. “As for new athletes this year in 2014, I know some great people who have come over to Asia, and I look forward to competing with them during regionals.”
Mogard said Thompson is among the few athletes he watches out for during the Open season, monitoring movements on the Asia Leaderboard.
"Thompson is definitely a legitimate threat to the podium this year,” Mogard said. “During regionals, if they release workouts with a little endurance bias, Speedy will be tough to beat," admitted last year’s Asia Regional winner.
Over the last three workouts, Thompson has put in top-10 performances in the region: 391 reps on 14.1 for third, 253 reps on 14.2 for 10th and 175 reps on 14.3 for an unofficial first-place finish. Currently, he’s in second overall, unofficially. Thompson is even ahead of European transplant and multi-year Games competitor Mikko Aronpää.
Looking toward the final two weeks of the Open, Thompson is excited to see what’s in store for him and his fellow competitors.
“It’s very hard to predict what goes though Castro’s mind. With two workouts, left I think they will be designed to easily mix up the Leaderboard,” he said. “I love the diversity of this year’s Open and I am excited to see what the next few weeks will bring.”
Should he achieve his goals this year, earning a trip to Carson, Calif., Thompson will take with him the honor of representing his home nation of New Zealand, and recognition of his achievements in Kuwait.