"I've worked hard over the past year, but I never thought I'd have much of a chance at making the Games."
So you think you’ve had a bad year? Since the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games Open, Masters competitor Bob LeFavi, of Rincon Athletic CrossFit, has seen — and felt — it all.
Last Spring, LeFavi, 52, tore a hamstring during a sprint causing him to hobble for months. In the summer, he sprained the same ankle twice working on double-unders resulting in more limping.
Then in November, while lifting a fallen tree, LeFavi tore the short head of his right bicep off the bone. As a Professor of Sports Medicine at Armstrong Atlantic State University, LeFavi knew what his options were. He chose not to repair it, and now he has what he calls “probably the only ‘unicep’ in the Open.”
“It looks strange, but hey, we don’t get judged on how our biceps look,” LeFavi points out.
Bad year, huh? Oh, it gets worse. During this year’s Open, LeFavi placed first worldwide in the Masters Men’s 50-54 Division on Workout 13.1.
“I couldn’t have chosen a better event for me,” he says.
On the next two Open workouts, some of LeFavi’s weaknesses were exposed, and he placed 22nd on 13.2 and 14th on 13.3.
A few hours after he completed 13.3, LeFavi was demonstrating muscle-ups at his box when he miscalculated how close the rings, which had just been raised, were to a steel bar 10 feet above the floor. He remembers starting his kip. The next thing he saw were three pools of blood under his eyes as he lay facedown on the floor.
“I am one of the most safety-conscious people I know in any box, so what I did was just plain stupid,” he says.
“I was out for a little bit, but when I had my head together all I wanted to know from the Emergency Room doctor was my prognosis. I was determined to do 13.4 no matter what,” LeFavi says.
With stitches in his head, a concussion and two black eyes, LeFavi hit 92 reps on Workout 13.4 the following week, placing 10th worldwide.
“I can’t use any of these injuries as excuses,” LeFavi says. “Fact is, I can’t keep pace with guys like Gord MacKinnon or Brig Edwards in my age group. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want them looking for me in their rearview mirror.”
When LeFavi saw Dave Castro’s now infamous video warning about Open Workout 13.5, he thought it was an April Fool’s joke.
“Nope. He wasn’t kidding,” LeFavi says. “I figured that if I got through the first four minutes, I would at least get through two more rounds. I mean, I had another four minutes, right? Well, I just died.”
He ended up getting 136 reps on 13.5, and despite being disappointed with his score, he placed first worldwide in the workout. He is convinced he would have gotten 150 reps on a redo.
After five weeks of Open competition, and multiple injuries, LeFavi finished fourth worldwide in his Masters Division earning a trip to the Games this summer.
“I've worked hard over the past year, but I never thought I'd have much of a chance at making the Games,” he says. “I am truly humbled by it. I know that sounds trite, but I really do consider it an honor to be able to compete against the guys in my age group. So many of them are machines. They're so consistent. My chief goal at the Games is just to be competitive and not embarrass myself!”
LeFavi says he has a list of weaknesses he needs to work on in order to prepare for the Games.
“CrossFit makes me do things I wouldn’t normally do, and it makes my weaknesses all the more apparent. But that’s a good thing, not a bad thing,” he says.
LeFavi sees these weaknesses as a reflection of his previous involvement in sports. As a collegiate wrestler, his strength carried him through. Then, from powerlifting to Olympic lifting (LeFavi is a USAW Senior Coach), he never concerned himself with metabolic or aerobic conditioning. Not so in CrossFit.
“If I am going to do anything in CrossFit, especially if I make it to the Games, I’m going to have to increase my metabolic conditioning,” LeFavi admits.
“Fortunately, I have great coaches in Drew McKenzie (of CrossFit Hyperformance) and Darcy Giaquinto (of Rincon Athletic CrossFit),” he says. “Drew is the local ‘godfather’ of CrossFit, and an excellent coach and programmer. Darcy knows my weaknesses and has the background to help me improve them. If I’ve made any improvement over the past year, despite my injuries, it’s due to their coaching.”
No doubt LeFavi will continue training hard with hopes to stay healthy and injury-free for his debut at the CrossFit Games.
“If there is one thing that has stuck with me throughout the past year and the Open, it’s that pain is temporary, but quitting is forever,” LeFavi says. "Now, if I can just train for a few months and not get hurt!"