"Their biggest strength is definitely the fact that they are all true CrossFitters, not only possessing specific abilities, but rather well-rounded skill sets and a high level of all fitness qualities," coach Scott Macintosh said.
“No one competes for second place,” said Wilna Appel of CrossFit PBM. “We always go out ready, and we’re in it to win it!”
For the last two years, the Pretoria-based team has come in second place at the Africa Regional behind two-time winning team, CrossFit Platinum.
“But everything happens for a reason,” Appel said. “If I look back now, we weren't ready to win and advance to the Games. This year is a different story.”
With several of the original Platinum teammates splitting off into two teams, Platinum and Double Platinum, CrossFit PBM has a good chance of finally earning that coveted place at the top of the podium. Double Platinum started the season strong, winning the Open in the region, while Platinum flagged with an eighth-place finish, leaving second-seeded CrossFit PBM hope that they may finally break their second-place streak.
“There has been a good spirit of rivalry between us in the past,” Appel said of the Platinum team. “I think (Platinum) has experience on their side, but they placed eighth in the Open. Team Double Platinum will be our biggest rival this year!”
CrossFit PBM is banking on the breadth of their athletes’ skill.
“We have a strong team with six well-rounded athletes,” Appel said. “We have noticed in the last few years that the team competition has evolved into a real contest of all-round skills and strength and not just having an individual that’s an expert in just one domain.”
CrossFit PBM has retained three members from last year: Appel (12th in the Open), Gerhard van der Merwe (22nd in the Open), and Frederik Engelbrecht (49th in the Open), and added three others including Estian Ferreira (13th in the Open), who competed as an individual competitor in Africa last year, and has competed with the team in the offseason; American competitor Holly Myers who is new to the country, but not to the sport (7th in the Open); and up-and-comer Heike Kotze (26th in the Open).
“(Kotze)’s really excelled in CrossFit in the last six months and we noticed the talent,” Appel said of the new competitor.
“Each of our athletes is individually strong,” Myers added. “Just as someone competing as an individual competitor would prepare for the next year by working on their weaknesses, we each did, as well.”
For the last couple months, CrossFit PBM entrusted its programming and coaching with Scott Macintosh and Joshua Capazorio, who also train 2013 Africa Regional fourth-place finisher Celestie Engelbrecht. Macintosh focuses on overall strength and conditioning, while Capazorio specializes in weightlifting.
“It’s difficult to play athlete and coach in the team,” Appel explained. “We thought it was time for us to be coached.”
Now the team shows up at their coach’s gym, The Yard, to get outside coaching twice per week, and follow their programming when back at CrossFit PBM.
“They do our lifting and conditioning program for us,” Appel said. “It’s so nice to not worry about the (programming) and analyzing the WODs. We can be athletes and be coached. They are taking a lot of stress off our shoulders to let us focus on our training. This was the best decision we could make.”
Over the last two months, Macintosh has gotten to see the breadth of CrossFit PBM’s fitness.
“Their biggest strength is definitely the fact that they are all true CrossFitters, not only possessing specific abilities, but rather well-rounded skill sets and a high level of all fitness qualities,” he said.
The question, now, is whether they will be able to get ahead of Platinum and Double Platinum this weekend at the regional. Since the teams have proven to be consistent performers over the years, the difference may very well be the failing of even one teammate in one event.
“This year’s regionals will expose particular teams’ individual members’ weaknesses. PBM is very well rounded, and each member definitely carries their own weight. They will do very, very well.”
Capazario agreed: “Every single member could compete in the individual comp and do really well.”
With some luck, this may be the year that PBM beats Platinum to the gold.
“We will come out prepared and focus on our game,”Appel said. “We can’t wait to run out into that arena.”