The 19th Fittest Man on Earth—and Fittest Man in Europe—Tuomas Vainio, will not be making an appearance in the 2012 CrossFit Games Season. The former strongman is still recovering from shoulder surgery.
Vainio’s shoulder had been bothering him throughout last season, and following the 2011 CrossFit Games, he underwent surgery.
“I try to be as versatile as I can in my training, but leading up to the Games last year I was suffering from shoulder problems,” Vainio says. “I think my shoulders were not used to the intensity of CrossFit workouts.”
Vainio has a background in strongman competitions and ice hockey, and made the switch to CrossFit competition after training alongside 2009 CrossFit Games champion, Mikko Salo, at CrossFit Pori in Finland. The 2011 CrossFit Games season was long and arduous, but after winning the 2011 Europe Regional, Vainio found himself suddenly catapulted onto the world stage.
“It was a long season, but I proceeded step by step, and suddenly I was in America,” Vainio says.
Despite his shoulder injury, Vainio has continued to train and coach at CrossFit Pori with just one arm.
“Fortunately, you can train hard in CrossFit even when one limb is out of the game,” Vainio says. “You just have to forget what others do in the gym and train your own way. I learned to make a lot of movements with one hand like snatches and wall balls, for example.”
Vainio has set new PRs with just one arm, including “Isabel” in 3:50, “Annie” in 6:23, and a 2K row in 6:50.
For now, his top priority is full recovery. Once he starts two-armed, as prescribed CrossFit training, Vainio intends to rigorously maintain good form so he may last longer than one season.
“My recovery from the surgery is still in progress,” Vainio says. “When I will be OK, I will really focus on good technique, it will allow me to compete for a longer time.”
In spite of the surgery and the resulting absence from this year’s CrossFit Games Season, Vainio remains positive and dedicated. For Vainio, CrossFit has an allure that will not fade.
“My motivation is to stay at the top, because every year it will be harder, but CrossFit is more than just a competition, it is a way of life,” he says. “I used to lead my life partly in this way, but now I have a solid goal.”
Although Vainio is out for the year, he still has his sites set on his goal—being named the Fittest on Earth.
When will we see him next?
“I have got my eyes set on the 2013 season.”