“Training with Sam is always fun. It’s always tough, too, but she knows how to bring out the best in me and her help and encouragement has really helped me to raise my game.”
Nicola Simpson started CrossFit in September 2010 after a conversation with her friend and fellow West Yorkshire firefighter, Samantha Briggs. The pair represented the United Kingdom by participating in the annual World Firefighter Games in North Korea together.
Prior to CrossFit, Simpson was a successful Thai boxer. She fought in England and Thailand, bringing home various awards.
Simpson and Briggs enjoyed success in North Korea and while traveling, Briggs told Simpson about her experience at the 2010 CrossFit Games. Simpson was intrigued and wanted to give CrossFit a try.
On her return, Simpson immediately joined CrossFit Leeds. Within a couple of months, she found herself on the Leeds team that finished second at the United Kingdom’s “Divided We Fall” competition.
Simpson feels lucky to train with one of the top CrossFit athletes in the world.
“Training with Sam is always fun. It’s always tough, too, but she knows how to bring out the best in me and her help and encouragement has really helped me to raise my game,” Simpson says.
She sticks to a tough training schedule set by her coach Mike Rawlinson, owner of CrossFit Leeds.
“There is a great competitive and supportive environment and we all work hard to bring out the best in each other,” Simpson says.
The upcoming Regional will be Simpson’s third. She was a member of the CrossFit Leeds team in 2011, and competed as an individual in 2012. This year, she is targeting a top-10 finish.
Simpson trains five to six days a week, often twice a day.
“I always try to work on weaknesses,” Simpson says. “At the moment, these are rowing — which I am never going to like — toes-to-bars and chest-to-bar pull-ups.”
Simpson qualified in 11th place in the Open in Europe this year, and says she prefers Regional competition to the Open.
“I didn’t enjoy the Open as much as I enjoy the Regional,” she admits. “I'd much prefer everybody to be in one room, hit the WOD and have the result there and then. The Open seems to take over your life and as much as you try not to let it … the entire week becomes about one WOD and watching the Leaderboard.”
In preparation for Regionals, Simpson has been working on all aspects of her game. She has spent a week with Briggs as well as top athlete Hayley Knowles. She has also spent time in the United States being coached on her lifting by Coach Mike Burgener.
Looking to Regionals, she says: “I would be delighted if there was running involved in the WODs, and I really enjoy chippers, but knowing CrossFit there will be a mix of heavy weights and gymnastics, and I am doing all I can to be ready for anything.”