“I'm not sure if I'll ever see myself back at the level that I was, but hopefully because I ... have been fit and active, that can put me in a good stead to be somewhere."
In 2012, Denae Brown was crowned the third fittest woman in Australia, and was bound for Carson, Calif., for her first appearance at the CrossFit Games. Instead, Brown found out she was pregnant, and stepped down.
With this year’s Open underway, Brown is a new mother to Sarah Taylor McDonald, and says she is content to be watching from the sidelines.
“She is seven pounds, and was born on the 30th of January at 2:55 a.m., and she's a little a gem,” Brown says. “We love her so much already, it's crazy.”
Named after Brown’s fiancé, Rohan McDonald’s, grandmother, who passed away during the 2012 Regional, Sarah is the only thing they’re focusing on.
“I know they grow up so quickly, so I just want to enjoy the precious moments that I have with her,” Brown says. “I think she's a bit of a miracle to come along. I was training 25 hours per week and to fall pregnant under that stress is pretty amazing.”
That’s not to say, however, that competition is absent from Brown’s future.
“Obviously at this stage, it's really hard to say,” she says. “Whether it'll be at a different level just so I can be part of it? Possibly.”
Brown stopped CrossFitting at the start of her third trimester and has spent the last six weeks resting and enjoying time with her new daughter.
“I'm not sure if I'll ever see myself back at the level that I was, but hopefully because I played competitive sport all through primary school and high school, and have been fit and active, that can put me in a good stead to be somewhere,” Brown says.
“Perhaps not as competitive as your Kara Gordon’s or anything like that, but maybe the likes of mums, like Megan Smith and Rebecca Eastwell.”
What remains completely assured is that CrossFit will remain an integral part of Brown’s life.
“I kind of have a philosophy that fitness is for life,” Brown says.
That philosophy also applies to her daughter.
“We feel pretty strongly about getting Sarah active, and fit and healthy, and I think CrossFit is a really great way to. Like they say, train your body for life and whatever it throws at you,” she says.
When it comes to the 2013 Open, however, Brown’s not too upset about not competing.
“Snatches and burpees? At that point I'll be honest, I was like, 'phew.' Lucky I'm not doing it!” Brown says.
“I like the longer WODs — almost the longer the better. Anything over that 15-minute mark , I really like. I’m a bit of a sucker for pain, but I guess you kind of have to be, don't you?”
Despite 13.2 being comparatively short, Brown is a fan of the 10-minute AMRAP of box jumps, deadlifts and shoulder-to-overheads.
“It looked alright. A quick fast one, and the weights weren't heavy,” she says.
“Didn't Sam Briggs get 13 rounds or something ridiculous? It's sensational. She's looking strong this year.”
In terms of the Australia Leaderboard, Brown isn’t too surprised by the leaders.
“Definitely no surprise to see Kara Gordon up there,” she says. “There are quite a few new names up there, like Philippa Robinson. She was competing in the teams last year, but she's always been quite a powerhouse so it's really good to see her up there.”
Had the last year been different for Brown, the new mother could potentially see herself in the top 15 in Australia.
“You put into context that it would have been another year of training,” she says. “I definitely felt like at the end of the year, apart from when I was pregnant and noticed a decline, I definitely felt like I was getting stronger and stronger.”
And when it comes to her prediction for 2013, she says, “Sam Briggs. She looks really strong. She'll certainly be a force to be reckoned with. I'm actually a bit of a Kristan Clever fan, so I'd look to see her back up there. I just really like her. But yeah, Sam looks really good.”