On a Leaderboard that has been constantly rattled with new faces, Candice Ford may have taken a new last name, but the three-time podium finisher is no stranger to the circuit.
The former elite gymnast’s debut at the Asia Regional found her winning a ticket to the Games in 2011. Two silvers and one gold medal later, Ford (nee Howe) stands out as a seasoned veteran and remains one of the most formidable female competitors in Asia.
“When you walk into the arena, you can definitely sense the fear and nerves from most of the first-time regional athletes,” said Ben Ford, Candice’s husband and co-owner of CrossFit LifeSpark, recounting their first trip to regionals in 2011.
Since then, the couple has nurtured a growing community in their affiliate, hosted numerous Level 1 Seminars and even found time to tie the knot.
“She’s definitely less nervous now. She still gets the jitters before every workout, but now she knows how to use it to her advantage,” Ben said of his wife’s improved mental tenacity.
The resolve Candice displays on the competition floor is a quiet composure. As she skillfully navigates her competition, new bloods rush in with blind ambition.
The same poise is reflected in the way she juggles her roles as a business owner, coach and Games athlete. As a result, CrossFit LifeSpark has seen tremendous growth as a community, solidifying its presence as one of the powerhouses in Asia, with Candice leading the pack.
As the community has grown, so has her perspective on competing at the Games.
After narrowly missing a trip back to the Games two years in a row, Candice’s desire to compete remains unwavering. Despite being admittedly unprepared for the Open this year, she seems confident in securing a spot on the podium in Seoul, Korea.
“This is possibly my worst performance ever in the Open,” Candice said of her ninth-place finish in the region, confessing to relegating her competitive training to the backseat as she focuses on growing the box.
“I know I can make it back to the Games if I wanted to,” she said, “but if I have to choose between that and helping the 200 athletes that come through LifeSpark everyday, it’s hard to justify doing the former.”
As one of the biggest affiliates in Dubai, Candice affirmed they still stay true to the motto they opened with: “Total Life Fitness.” The community remains close knit, focusing less on the scores on the board, and more on applying fitness in their daily lives.
“Going to the Games would be great, but after multiple trips to regionals, I also have the added knowledge of the sacrifice it would require to get there,” Candice said. “I don’t want to miss out on being part of our growing community, and on being a good partner (to Ben). Eventually, it’s all about balance.”
“The best thing about having that amount of experience is that it helps you make a more educated decision on how far you are willing to go to beat the competition,” Ben said.
“Historically, the regionals have been a far more rewarding experience for an athlete like her,” he added. “When it comes down to game day, she’ll do whatever it takes to get work done.”
The Open and the regional are two entirely different animals, with the former focusing mostly on volume-based work with basic movements, and the latter favoring those who are comfortable with complex movements.
“Even though it doesn’t look like it now, it will be down to Marlene (Andersson) and Candice,” said Ben, adding that he believes even though the contenders for the title are numerous and equally intimidating, Candice’s experience and skills give her an unparalleled advantage heading into regionals.
“Give her anything overhead and lots of gymnastics movements and she’ll dominate,” he said.
Whatever the results may be after her fourth trip to the Asia Regional, it is safe to say Candice Ford is not a name to be written off any time soon.