“Sometimes when you’re hitting your own workouts everyday ... sometimes I guess, it gets a bit lonely ... With team, you’ve always got your mates there supporting you, to back you up.”
Alahna Gibbs has had a less than conventional road to the 2013 Australia Regional. After narrowly missing a team place with CrossFit Townsville to the Games in 2011, Gibbs finished seventh as an individual at the Europe Regional in 2012.
Gibbs’ plan to qualify as an individual for the 2013 Regionals were derailed when she tore her calf muscle the weekend before the Open on a simple training run. After scoring only one rep in 13.1, Gibbs was out of contention as an Individual, but worked tirelessly to secure her place on the CrossFit Townsville Tropic Thunder team.
“Alahna got one rep so she came last in the first workout,” CrossFit Townsville coach Daniel Strickland says. “It was pretty funny watching the (CrossFit Townsville) Leaderboard ‘cause she was one workout down on everybody else, but she just kept chasing them.”
Despite a strong background in touch football, she had never done any weight training before starting CrossFit three years ago.
“Stricko just got on my back about giving CrossFit a go,” Gibbs says. “I’ve never looked back since then.”
Strickland saw CrossFit as the perfect vehicle to harness the potential he could see in Gibbs as an athlete. Gibbs joined CrossFit Townsville’s team in 2011, helping them to secure fifth place at the Australia Regional (only one point behind third place).
In 2012 Gibbs relocated to Manchester, England for a working holiday. Gibbs joined a box in Manchester to maintain her fitness and meet people, but training was not meant to be a priority.
Regardless of her initially laid back intentions, Gibbs qualified for the Europe Regional in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2012. The multi-lingual background of the competitors and the chance to compete against some of the biggest names in the world made for quite a different atmosphere to the Australia Regional.
“The big standout moment for me was the first heat, looking up and seeing Annie Thorisdottir, you know, at the far end of the line,” Gibbs says. “Having to compete against her opened my eyes a bit.”
Initially planning to stay overseas for two years, it was Gibbs’ boyfriend, now fiancée, who drew her back to Australia sooner than expected.
Strickland is confident that if not for her injury, Gibbs would have been a strong contender among the top 10 women last weekend at the 2013 Australia Regional.
The decision to join CrossFit Townsville’s Tropic Thunder team was a no brainer for Gibbs.
“That was my first question the next day after going to the physio ‘Will you still let me go team?’”
This year, Gibbs certainly earned her place in the Tropic Thunder team. In 13.2 (a workout that included box jumps), she scored an impressive 329 reps (36th place in Australia) less than a fortnight after her calf injury.
Considering her last place position in the first workout, Gibbs finished among the top athletes at her affiliate and an impressive 630th in Australia.
Gibbs has embraced the team experience and acknowledges some of the benefits of choosing to compete in a team rather than as an individual.
“Sometimes when you’re hitting your own workouts everyday, although it’s exciting and you reach new levels … sometimes I guess, it gets a bit lonely and you kind of want to join in with everyone else,” Gibbs says. “With team, you’ve always got your mates there supporting you, to back you up.”
On Day 2 of the Australia Regional, Gibbs demonstrated her outstanding capacity to perform. In Event 5, the Deadlift/Box jump partner event, she pulled her team from the back of the pack in their heat to first place in a time of 8:07. This placed Tropic Thunder third for the event and pulled them up the Leaderboard into a comfortable sixth place overall.
Gibbs is clearly enjoying being back in Australia and competing in the Tropic Thunder team.
“It’s been an awesome week,” Gibbs says. “The CrossFit community here has been amazing. Love to see everyone out there supporting each other … a lot of fun!”
The 27-year-old says she could not perform the way she does without the support of the people around her and talks very highly of the quality of training delivered by Strickland at CrossFit Townsville. She believes the programming for both the teams and individuals is spot on.
“Regardless of any individual ability, with how fast the sport’s progressing… you’ve got to have the right people guiding you to be able to keep up with it,” Gibbs says.
Heading into the final day of the 2013 Australia CrossFit Regional, Tropic Thunder sat in sixth place overall, 24 points outside the top three.
They entered the third day determined to give their all, and see where they would land.
With a ninth-place finish on Event 6 (13:36) and a 10th-place finish on Event 7 (20:11), Tropic Thunder settled to eighth overall.
This year, Tropic Thunder is top 10. Next year they plan on making it to top three.
“In 12 months’ time we will be sitting here talking about her being [in] the top three,” Strickland says.
“It’s just going to be her decision if she wants to go to America in a team or as an individual ... and that’s a bridge we’ll cross a long way from here now.”