Mona Pretorius sped to the peak of CrossFit competition, winning the 2011 Africa Regional just months after she turned her focus from Olympic weightlifting to CrossFit.
Over the next three years, she set up a pattern of odd-year CrossFit competition and even-year Olympic weightlifting. In 2012, she left CrossFit. In 2013, she returned and took third at the Africa Regional. And in 2014, she’s out again.
As a member of the South African Olympic Weightlifting Team, Pretorius has had to balance her commitments to her two sports.
“I love CrossFit and love competing in it,” she said. “But as an Olympic weightlifter I was taught from a young age that if you divide your attention too much, something will slack down.”
While on hiatus from CrossFit during the 2012 Games season, she won bronze at the Senior Commonwealth Championships and the African Championships, and broke three South African senior records. Pretorius holds the South African 63-kg. division records in the snatch (83 kg), clean and jerk (100 kg) and total (183 kg). This year, she’s hoping to take a spot on the podium at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland this July.
“I had to prioritize and make weightlifting my main sport this year. That’s the main reason for not competing (in CrossFit),” she explained.
Although she’s not on the Leaderboard, she is still leaderboarding.
“I still watch all the results and some of the workouts have been looking really cool,” she said.
As the owner of CrossFit ECX, Pretorius is still deep in the CrossFit scene and continues to incorporate CrossFit workouts into her weightlifting training under the guidance of her coach Dutch Lowy.
“(CrossFit) helps my explosive power and lung capacity, which in turn helps me recover faster during weightlifting,” she said. “It also strengthens smaller muscle groups, and that doesn’t happen when you just do weightlifting.”
Lowy, a 2009 CrossFit Games competitor, bridges the gap between Pretorius’ two sports by managing her weightlifting and CrossFit programming. To ensure she is on track for the Commonwealth Games, Lowy regularly talks with South African National Weightlifting coach Aveenash Pandoo, and Pretorius makes sure to attend all national training camps.
“You need that person who can adjust your program and who you can ask advice of, and while I’m always doing that as CrossFit ECX's coach and owner, not having to plan my own program does take a lot of pressure off me,” she said.
Currently, she can snatch 85 kg and clean and jerk 106 kg. She said she believes she’s on track to hit a 200-kg total at the Commonwealth Games.
“While I’m progressing weekly, my eyes are very much set on that podium at the Commonwealth Games,” she said.
In 2015, she intends to improve on her 45th-place finish from the CrossFit Games in 2011.
“Gold at regionals is also definitely one of my main future goals,” she said, “and going to the CrossFit Games and placing in the top 10 there is what I’ll be aiming for when I reach there.”