With her third place finish in the 2011 Canada West Regional still in her mind, Heather Gillespie found herself en route to the 2012 Canada West Regional aiming to beat her previous attempt. Her sixth place finish in the Open surprised few in the Region; even an early scouting report read, “Many Canada West coaches and athletes believe Heather is the woman to watch this year.”
Gillespie was able to prove she could live up to the hype. When the dust settled after Event 6 at the Regional in the Richmond Oval, she gained the ground needed to put hometown favorite Emily Beers into third place, securing herself one of the coveted Games invites alongside Angie Pye.
“It’s funny because I never placed higher than second in any workout all weekend, but somehow I knew I would eventually take that second overall spot,” she recalls. “It was all about consistency and waiting patiently. I knew my body would stand the test of the weekend’s events and hold strong right till the end.”
According to Gillespie, her success at the Regional and her first CrossFit Games invite are all due to the support she has back home in Lethbridge, Alberta. “I do all that I do for the people around me,” she says. “I am here because of all the awesome people I surround myself with.”
Even though Gillespie was almost 750 miles from home during the Regional competition, she never felt she was at a disadvantage. “I could feel the Alberta love. A lot of people came up to me and told me outright that I had to do it this year,” she says. “There was a lot of supportive eye contact from people I recognized from other Alberta gyms.”
Looking forward to her first CrossFit Games appearance has Gillespie on a bit of rollercoaster, but she’s very much looking forward to it and her CrossFit Lethbridge community is along for the ride. “I think they’re happier for me than I am. I just want to get out there and do my best for them. There are about a dozen people from Lethbridge coming to California to watch the Games,” she says of her love for her community. “I have always had unwavering support from a core group of CrossFit buddies. They have wanted this for me since day one and it feels awesome to have people cheering me on. My mom and son are also coming to watch so I will be working my butt off to impress my little guy. He loves the movie ‘Thor’ and really thinks I’m taking on Thor’s daughter in July. He’s very nervous for me, actually.”
She says whatever happens in Carson, Calif., is secondary to her continued growth as both an athlete and a coach. “I’m training as if I’m going there to win, but I am going to soak in all the experiences and challenges that the Games have to offer. I try to embrace the challenge and take it for what it has to offer and let it stimulate me as a person to grow,” she says. “My proudest experiences as a coach are when I can help someone with very little self-confidence know their worth as a human being. It comes from the challenge surrounding CrossFit workouts and overcoming one day at a time.
“It obviously feels great to inspire people. I couldn’t think of a better way to be living life.”