While the likes of Games veterans Kara Webb, Ruth Anderson Horrell and Amanda Allen get most of the spotlight in the women’s division in Australia, a number of emerging athletes are slowly starting to build a bit of a name for themselves in the region.
Jessica Coughlan is one of them.
After an impressive sixth-place finish at the 2013 Australia Regional, Coughlan has emerged as one of the consistent performers Down Under, dominating local throwdowns over the past 12 months and putting in another solid effort in the 2014 Open.
Coughlan ended the online event in eighth place in Australia, and is now aiming for another top-10 finish at the WIN Entertainment Centre in Wollongong come May 16.
Just like last year, Coughlan was super-consistent during the five weeks of the Open
with two top-five scores and her worst result being a 55th place in the third workout: the deadlift/box-jump couplet
This year’s Open brought two new concepts to play, with the chipper of 14.4
and the workout for time of 14.5
, and Coughlan enjoyed the mix up in programming.
“I found the changes really good,” she said. “I enjoyed the mix of skills.”
“I’d like to see it get heavier, but I liked the chipper that went from the rowing to the muscle-up,” Coughlan added. “I think they needed to do that to separate athletes in terms of those who have more of a grip on the technical skills, so I really liked it.”
For Coughlan, 14.5 continued that trend and the nature of the workout allowed the athletes to separate themselves from other hopefuls.
“I think it added a bit more excitement, with it being for time,” she said.
“I think sometimes people have a tendency to think the Open is boring with all the AMRAPs, but heading in this direction of ‘for time,’ it will really show who’s the best and give a true indication of the top 48 in each region. So I think it was awesome and should continue.”
With the 2014 Open now over, another individual invite to the Australia Regional secured, and the events released for the three days of competition in Wollongong, Australia, Coughlan is looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“The (events) are very different, but I personally love them,” she said. “I love that we’re seeing a little bit more of a technical focus and also a little bit more of a focus on strength rather than who has the most effective kip.”
“I’m loving that they turned everything on its head by including things like legless rope climbs
and strict handstand push-ups
,” she added. “No one saw them coming, including myself, but they are movements I enjoy, so I’ll be looking forward to it.”
Unlike the Open, and most of the CrossFit Games, athletes are able to spend weeks specifically preparing for the regional events with the schedule released in advance.
Coughlan and her coach, Rob Downton, from CrossFit NorWest (Raw Strength and Conditioning), are taking full advantage of this.
“Between now and regionals I’ll be rehearsing the workouts and doing different variations on them, but we’ll only go through each workout once,” Coughlan said.
“I’m not going to do 150 pistols again before regionals as I don’t see that as a skill that needs to be practiced 150 times,” she said. “I’ll be doing different variations on the workouts, and different variations on the movements, and ensuring that I’m confident with my handstand walking and making sure that I can hit my first snatch weight with my eyes closed.”
While knowing the events ahead of time gives athletes the opportunity to prepare, it also means they know precisely which events they never want to do again.
“So far I’ve done the 50s
and it was absolutely horrendous,” Coughlan said. “I’m not looking forward to re-doing it, but I am definitely looking forward to the Nasty Girls and the … handstand push-ups, front squats and burpees over the bar.”
The time between the Open and regionals is often used to target weaknesses for upcoming movements, but Coughlan said sometimes you had to take your genetics into account, as well.
“As a shorter person with T-Rex arms, I’ll have a harder time with the 50s workout and things like deadlifts, wall balls and rowing are things I’ve been working hard on over the past year,” she said. “You’ve got to take your genetics into account sometimes.”
“That’s definitely what will be the ultimate test for me, but it’s something I’ve been working really hard on and I’m pleased with where I’m at with it at the moment,” she added.
Two of the top three athletes in the Australia Region—Webb and Anderson Horrell—have made several appearances at the CrossFit Games and Coughlan said there were a few spots on the podium that were, baring disaster, reserved.
But that doesn’t mean she’s ruling out trip to Carson, California in July to compete as an individual at the Games.
“You’ve got to go out on the day and give your best, and I think that third place is definitely still up for grabs, particularly (on the women’s side) so it comes down to the weekend,” she said.
As we’ve seen before, anything can happen.