While some veteran Games competitors will compete for their second, third or even sixth time in July, other athletes will be making the trip for the first time.
Sherbrooke, Quebec’s Simon Paquette is one of those athletes.
“My primary goal was a top-five finish (at Regionals), but underneath, I wanted to go to the Games more than anything,” Paquette says.
The 24-year-old firefighter placed second at the Canada East Regional, right behind two-time Games competitor Albert-Dominic Larouche. It was an exciting race that saw Paquette, Jean-Michel Riendeau and 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games competitor Matthew Lefave shuffle in the top few spots throughout the weekend.
“It took me a moment to realize that I was going to make the Games,” he says. “When my second-place finish was confirmed, I was very happy and excited.”
While his first goal of qualifying for the Games has been achieved, Paquette aims to keep his foot planted firmly on the gas pedal.
“I will do everything I can to make the final day of the Games,” he says.
While Paquette will be one of the new faces at the Games, he is not new to competing. Before CrossFit, he was an elite cyclist and competed at the national level in mountain biking.
Now, he has four years of CrossFit under his belt, and his previous finishes at Regionals indicate he’s on the upswing. He finished 16th in 2011 and 13th in 2012.
“I felt more confident (this year) because I had the chance to try every (event), unlike last year,” he says. “I knew what to expect.”
He made some major changes between last year and this year that paid off in a big way.
“My new coach, Roch Proteau, changed everything concerning my physical training, as well as my diet,” he says. “I follow everything he says without arguing, and it works.”
With these changes came higher expectations that weighed heavily on him, Paquette says. In addition to the added pressure, the physical duress his body endured completing seven events in three days forced him to face one of his greatest fears.
“I’ve never taken so many ice baths,” he says. “I hate ice baths!”
Despite the toll the competition took on his body, Paquette says the weekend was more difficult mentally than physically. This is something he will keep in mind as he prepares for the Games.
“(Proteau) is getting me prepared to face any circumstance,” he says, adding that he plans to diversify his training and add more volume in the coming weeks.
As he puts in the work and counts down the days until he boards the plane for Carson, Calif., Paquette says he is looking forward to enjoying every minute of the experience.
“Going there for the first time, I will just embrace the whole experience and have a good time,” he says.
His idea of having a good time includes what draws him to CrossFit the most.
“I like to surpass myself,” he says. “I always want to get better and better.”