"You can't live your life thinking about what you almost did ... I'm focused on what I'm about to achieve."
“CrossFit is just hard work; there’s no luck. I love that,” says Anders Galaly.
Twenty-four-year-old Galaly is no stranger to pressure at CrossFit. Last year, after only a year of training, he qualified for Regionals. “Nobody knew who I was,” he said. “That changed after Day 1, because I finished 3rd.”
After Day 2, he finished 2nd, but that evening was the turning point. “I didn’t eat properly and I couldn’t sleep well.”
On Day 3, Galaly was under pressure because everyone knew him. “I felt they were all looking at me,” he says.
When it came time for Workout 5, "Amanda," Galaly buckled, as he hadn’t tried non-false grip muscle-ups or jumping unto the rings. There was a 15-minute time cap, and he didn’t finish. Finishing 4th was more than he ever imagined, and he’s still acutely aware of how close he came to making the Games.
“I learned a lot about myself and that’s worth more than a 3rd place at Regionals,” he says. “I wouldn’t have had a chance at the Games.”
After growing out of a childhood of tennis and basketball, where he competed nationally and regionally, Galaly found CrossFit. “I love the daily challenge and the fear of working out.”
He says tennis has helped him stand alone at CrossFit, whereas he regularly uses basketball’s explosive force. Even though tennis isn’t intense enough, and he believes he’s the wrong height for basketball (6’2’’), he loves the camaraderie of all three sports. “I could spend all day meeting good friends, training and having fun,” he says.
In spite of placing 19th during the Open, Galaly was no stranger to setbacks during the offseason. Relocating for an internship, he focused on Olympic weightlifting six days a week. In October, he was doing a snatch pull and snatch with straps, and dislocated his right thumb. “They put two wires through my bones to keep the joint in place and gave me a hard cast for six weeks, plus six weeks of rehab.”
With a non-working right thumb, Galaly was scared of losing his ability to become an eye surgeon, which was much worse than giving up training for 12 weeks. He began rehab with underwater hand movements and finished it mid-January, when he snatched 85 kg and jerked 120 kg at a weightlifting competition. Luckily, his injury doesn’t limit him; he warms up and stretches for some time before handstand exercises.
Galaly qualified for Regionals again, but his team also qualified. It wasn’t tough for him to decide to go individual. As the Open progressed, his performance improved and that was the primary factor in his decision. “I believe I have a chance to make it to the Games as an individual.”
He would love to compete alongside his friends and not against them, however he looks at the bright side. “One of my friends can take my spot on the team and we can share the Regional experience.”
While still competing in weightlifting, Galaly reduced the intensity to focus on the Regionals and the Games. Rudy Nielsen of Outlaw CrossFit currently trains him. “The bar for the Regionals has been raised … I’m looking forward to competing against everyone,” he says.
His advice to others competing is to “relax, take one event at a time, and have fun.”
To prepare, Galaly is focusing on technique, attempting to make his performance peak the last weekend in May, injury-free. “I have to do the best I can, not what is needed to beat others and not what others expect me to do.”
He’s most looking forward to the hang cleans and the moving pistols and without missing a beat. “If I do my best and end 42nd, there were 41 guys better prepared.”
Once the Games are done, he plans to return to the weightlifting platform.
In two years, Galaly will finish medical school at Aarhus University. He’s taking a year off to do medical research on pigs to improve the treatment of Glaucoma, a disease that causes blindness. Alongside PhDs and professors, he is researching the additional effects of Carbonic Anhydrase, which is currently used as a treatment for Glaucoma. “I’m trying to discover how Carbonic Anhydrase inhibitors dilate the arteries of the retina,” he says.
Most of his research takes place in the mornings, so he trains in the evenings for about two hours. Thursday and Sunday are rest days or light technique work. “Research isn’t always fun,” he says, “but if the experiment doesn’t work, you just have to keep trying, like CrossFit.”
When things work and go smoothly, “you tend forget the hard work,” he says. “It’s like after your first muscle up, you forget the endless hours of scaling. Or how winning makes you forget how hard you trained.”
Keeping his eye on the target has helped him in medical research and CrossFit.
Once he finishes medical school, he’ll have less time. In February, his friends opened Spartan Mentality CrossFit and he, along with a group of friends, help out at this box. They are located at an old fire station, have plenty of space, small classes, and two Olympic platforms. “It’s an instant win,” he says.
But Galaly is looking forward to working as a doctor. “I would love to do competitive CrossFit on the side,” he says. “Even when I retire as a top level competitor, I will still be doing CrossFit style workouts and enjoying them with my friends.”
“Sometimes, I remember how close I was to making it,” he says. But he quickly dismisses that thought with another, “You can’t live your life thinking about what you almost did … I’m focused on what I’m about to achieve.”