The CrossFit Games didn’t seem to be on the horizon for Brian Quinlan or Team CrossFit Explode. Quinlan was not favored to be on the podium at the Mid Atlantic Regional and this was the first year a team from the affiliate competed.
"If you told me I'd be going to the Games last year, I wouldn't have believed you," Quinlan says.
Quinlan’s athletic background includes Division 1 Collegiate Rugby and USA Amateur Boxing. He was no stranger to Regional competition. However, his past finishes weren't even close to Games contention. Quinlan finished 24th in the Open this year and headed to the Regional with high hopes.
Leading up to Regionals, Quinlan's priorities were his four-year-old daughter, running his affiliate and training his members and team. He readily admits he did little to focus on his own training. His goal for Regionals was simply to have fun doing what he loved. He never dreamt he would nab a place in the Games.
When the Regional Workouts were announced, he was optimistic. He programs for himself and his members with testing limitations at the forefront of his mind. Although the announced weights were heavy he says, "They weren't demands I hadn't put on my body before."
It was on Day 2 of Regional competition that Quinlan started to make a dent in the standings. He started off the day beating Ben Smith in the dumbbell/snatch event. "Its always good if you can beat Ben Smith at something," Quinlan says.
As Day 2 came to an end, Quinlan was in third place, just one point in front of Steve Pinkerton.
Quinlan had competed with Pinkerton in Regionals previously. "We are cut from the same cloth," Quinlan says.
He knew their scores would be close on the Snatch Ladder and thought it could come down to the last event, which is exactly what happened. Going into Event 6, Quinlan and Pinkerton were tied for third.
Quinlan says going up against Pinkerton for the third place spot, was a hard pill to swallow. He knew Pinkerton had put in the same work he had. "As the weekend went on I felt stronger and stronger," Quinlan says.
He knew he only had to beat the guy next to him, but as usual, when it was 3, 2, 1 … go, it was all about him. Quinlan says he got in the zone early into the last event. He did significantly better than in practice, beating Pinkerton and earning third place overall.
"I didn't foresee myself in that spot," Quinlan says.
He says being on the podium brought a flood of emotions.
Quinlan feels it was his calmness going into the Regional that aided him in ending the weekend on the podium. "If you have anxiety, if you have inhibitions, if you have huge goals that need to be met, its a lot of weight on your chest," he says. "It’s air taken out of your lungs, and you need all of the air you can get … people mistake this stuff for work.”
Quinlan is training for the Games by ramping up his volume both in strength training and met-cons. "It’s the first time in a long time that I have had to focus on myself as an athlete," he says.
Upon returning from Regionals, Quinlan says the team sat him down and told him he needed to focus on training for the Games. The team did not qualify and they were ready to devote themselves to Quinlan like he had to them. That was up until about a month ago when they got news they would be joining their leader in Carson.
This was the first year there was a team representing CrossFit Explode. On its first showing they proved they were a competitive force. At the end of Regionals, Explode was in a three-way tie for second place with Games veterans R.A.W. Training and CrossFit Wilmington. The tie-breaker put Explode into the fourth position; just out of reach of Games qualification.
Quinlan says he was proud of the team. Not just of their performance, but of how they handled not qualifying due to the tiebreaker. "They didn't bat an eyelash," he says.
In early June, word came out that CrossFit Wilmington was disqualified, which meant Explode would take their spot. He and the team were ecstatic. They had one day to turn in their roster. They decided to stick with their Regional team.
One might think it would be hard to switch from thinking you are done with your season to turning it back on. Quinlan says this was not the case with this team. "They did not stop training,” Quinlan says.
The Monday after Regionals, they were in the gym again. Upon finding out they were training for the Games, they have been training three on, one off with multiple workouts per day, including high level skill work. Quinlan says it is also mandatory they do the Explode workout of the day with the other members in addition to team training.
Quinlan says his personal goal is to make it to the last day of the Games. His goal for the team is to finish in the top 10. However, according to Quinlan, having athletes from Explode compete in the Games is bigger than the final standings. He feels the reputation that comes with being Games competitors will allow CrossFit Explode help even more people in the future.
"Win or lose, with attitude and passion you walk away with everything.”