"Competing at the regionals last year, I really, clearly found that ... I like (CrossFit) way more. It's just a lot more fun."
With five regional competitions under her belt and an 11th-place finish at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games—the highest placing any female athlete from the Australia Region has ever secured—Amy Dracup is one of the most decorated CrossFit athletes in the southern hemisphere.
But since her success in 2011, Dracup has failed to qualify for the Games as an individual.
"I went in (to 2012) as a really similar athlete as in 2011. I hadn’t made a lot of changes to my programming and volume or specifically dealing with my weaknesses,” Dracup said.
“I sort of felt like I produced a similar result … but everyone else had stepped it up another level,” she added.
At the end of the 2012 Australia Regional, Dracup was in seventh place overall and failed to qualify for the Games. She then shifted her focus to weightlifting with her sights set on qualifying for the Australian Commonwealth Games weightlifting team.
"I was still doing CrossFit casual sessions three times a week ... but not nearly at the level that was necessary to be competitive at regionals," Dracup said.
"Then the Open came ‘round and I started the Open and I was really unsatisfied that—surprise, surprise—weightlifting wasn’t going to be enough to make me competitive with the rest of the field,” she continued. “So in that frustration I started to make a change.”
"I remember reading something at the time, something Chris Spealler wrote on his blog about not being afraid to change, and if it wasn’t working to do something about it. Don’t plod on with the same program if it’s not working. So I adopted Outlaw for eight weeks leading up into the regionals and that was the most committed to CrossFit I’d been all year,” she added.
Given her limited CrossFit training in the lead up to last season, Dracup went into the 2013 Australia Regional with no expectations and attributes her impressive fourth-place finish to the freedom she felt during competition.
This year, CrossFit is again Dracup’s focus. She chose to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games trials last weekend in order to protect a lingering hamstring injury.
"I had to make a decision as to whether going to trials would be worth risk of making it worse and as I’ve chosen CrossFit as my No. 1 goal this year, I had to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games trials, which was pretty upsetting,” Dracup said, “but at the same time I know what I want.”
"Competing at the regionals last year, I really, clearly found that … I like (CrossFit) way more,” she said. “It’s just a lot more fun. I enjoy both sports and I’d love to be successful in both sports, but that just hasn’t happened this season and that’s OK.”
Since re-focusing on CrossFit, Dracup has made a lot of changes, including opening her own gym in Melbourne, Australia, CrossFit Deux.
"Training’s really been fun,” she said. “A big part of that is owning my own gym and being in my own space. It feels like back when I started CrossFit when we just hung out in the gym all the time. We’d do our workout and then we’d challenge each other to max efforts on things and we just never wanted to leave.”
"It’s a little bit like that now … we’re in the gym, we’ve got new toys and we just want to do things all the time. It’s just a really fun environment."
Another significant change for Dracup was her decision to work with three-time CrossFit Games competitor Rob Forte and follow his programming.
"I have a lot of respect for Rob,” she said. “He’s been competing alongside my husband (Bjorn Albrecht-Walker, 38th-place finisher at the 2010 CrossFit Games) since we started CrossFit, and he’s just got better and better every year.”
"He has a fantastic mental game and is just a really great inspiration to me,” Dracup added. “It’s just great to communicate with someone on a daily basis that cares about what you're doing and is writing programming that I feel is relevant, but also that I feel is keeping me interested. I’m really loving it. I feel very lucky."
Heading into 14.4, Dracup sits in the 12th spot overall in the Australia Region, and is on track for a sixth regional appearance.
Consistency has been her key this year, finishing inside the top 35 in the region in each workout so far this Open.
"I feel like I don't have a fear about anything at the moment,” she said. “I'm just, you know, doing it and seeing where it puts me and moving onto the next workout.”
Dracup added: "I'm not my workout, I've decided. I'm not the sum of my results. I'll be me at the end of it, you know? So whatever they give us, I'll do it. Have a bit of fun, muck around with everyone in the gym and move on."
Although she says she is focused on performance over results, the end goal of reaching the Games is still a motivator for Dracup who says the Games experience is addictive.
"As soon as you go you want to go again. I absolutely, completely and thoroughly felt alive at the Games," Dracup said. "It was like a big playground with the best people. I enjoyed it so much. I think that's what spurs you on ... just that feeling spurs you on day-to-day ... remembering what it was like."
With a number of high-quality female competitors in Australia, qualifying for the CrossFit Games will be even tougher this year for Dracup. But, if she is to secure a spot on the podium in May, she’s fairly confident she knows whom she’ll be standing alongside.
“I want them all to be successful but I have a soft spot for Ruth (Anderson-Horrell) and I don't think that Kara (Webb) is going anywhere soon,” she said. “She's pretty phenomenal. So yeah, definitely Ruth and Kara.”