"I knew I had to win. If I didn't, there would be no coming back."
It’s a time of change. The 2013 Africa Regional shifted from its traditional home on the Cape coast and spectators greeted the final day of the event under a clear, cool blue Johannesburg sky. The face of CrossFit has also changed over the past year, with the number of boxes open and represented skyrocketing.
But so far, what hadn’t changed were the leaders in the competiton. At the end of Day 1, you could cut and past the 2012 Leaderboard to 2013, with last year’s winners David Levey, Rika Diedericks and CrossFit Platinum in the lead again.
We were all wondering: Will the winds of change be blowing through the stadium on Day 3?
And then the wind blew! In a punishing event that saw most competitors trapped on handstand push-ups or toes-to-bar, the crowd roared when the names of the top female athletes were called out in the final heat.
Lorinda van Loggerenberg and Anneke De Beer were first to handstand push-ups. They were soon joined by two of the competition favorites, Mona Pretorius and Carla Nunes da Costa.
Diedericks, still the leading lady when the event started, was tangling with the double-unders. When she finally joined the others, it was at a slower pace than the crowd had come to expect from the 2012 Regional winner.
De Beer moved through the handstand push-ups quickly and was first to the rig for the toes-to-bar, Nunes da Costa and De Beer just behind. As they breezed through, Diedericks was now down on her hands and knees in front of the push-up board.
“I was very tired going into the handstand push-ups and didn’t think I’d get past the first five,” said Nunes da Costa afterward. “But I had to. I mentally switched focus and thought of all the ladies who had done it before me. I could do it.”
Seven women were still labouring on with the handstand push-ups, as De Beer and Nunes da Costa went to the the bar for the shoulder-to-overhead.
The crowd cheered for the leaders but felt for Diedericks and Pretorius who were both struggling, Diedericks resolved to taking it one handstand push-up at a time.
“I struggled with my left arm during my warm-up this morning,” said Deidericks, after conferring with her chiropractor following the event. “He says it’s my neck. So I was basically doing handstand push-ups with one arm.”
Meanwhile Zandri Potgieter and De Beer joined the in the shoulder-to-overhead. Nunes da Costa ground steadily on, working on her final 10 reps, with Engelbrecht and De Beer just behind, while Pretorious took on the toes-to-bar.
The crowd’s delight was audible as Nunes da Costa started her lunges. A jubilant Nunes da Costa finished the event a few feet short or the finish line, Engelbrecht, De Beer and Pretorius lined up behind her. An exhausted looking Diedericks slumped beneath the rig.
“I knew I had to win,” Nunes da Costa said. “If I didn’t there’d be no coming back.”
Beaming, Nunes da Costa welcomed the cheers, having gone from virtual unknown in the Region to the crowd’s sweetheart over the past 2 days.
And with that Nunes da Costa overtook Diedericks and leads by 2 points!
“I have to win and I just hope someone comes between Carla and me. I’ll just have to close my eyes and go!”
1. Carla Nunes da Costa (15:02)
2T. Celestie Engelbrecht (15:03)
2T. Anneke de Beer (15:03)
The final heat of men moved quickly to the handstand push-ups and pumped them out with astounding speed. Neil Scholtz and Ivan Kruger were off the boards and onto the rig together. With Jason Smith, Hannes du Toit and event leader, Levey, hot on their heels.
The leaders moved on to shoulder-to-overhead in quick succession, Kruger leading the way.
“The handstand push-ups tired my shoulders and core,” said Levey after the event. “That made the shoulders-to-overhead heavy, even though the weight wasn’t that heavy.”
With fewer than two minutes to spare, Kruger begins his lunges. A few lunges in, Kruger broke to catch his breath and du Toit overtook him. Then, du Toit rested, while Kruger took the lead. Suddenly Schotlz emerged from the back, with Levey coming up behind.
“I never practiced my lunges because I never thought I’d get there,” said a victorious Scholtz. “They were horrible!”
In a heartwarming display of CrossFit camaraderie, du Toit left his bar and ran to Kruger, cheering for the 20-year-old Regional newcomer.
“I am much happier with my performance than I thought I would be, because I thought I’d come 20th,” du Toit said.
“The lunges were the worst,” Kruger said. “I had to dig deep, but the crowd cheering definitely helped.”
Levey comes in unsteadily behind Kruger and ties at second with Neil Scholz, but retains his lead overall with Scholz in at second and Kruger at third.
1. Ivan Kruger (14:48)
T2. David Levey (15:02)
T2. Neil Scholtz (15:02)
T2. Hannes du Toit (15:02)
T2. Richard Smith (15:02)
Determined to topple the leaderboard Team CrossFit PBM went full throttle throughout the event.
Team CrossFit Platinum were first to the handstand push-ups, but PBM were soon at the board and pumped through them at light speed. They sprung up onto the rig while Platinum struggled with their handstand push-ups.
“The handstand push-ups were difficult,” said Wilna Appel of CrossFit PBM. “The mat was soft and didn’t give much support. But that was our strongest point, so I knew we had to push it.”
The DJ played “Thunderstruck” and the crowd was. PBM were already motoring through the toes to bars while behind them Platinum were shaking out their arms and looking strained.
The exhausted looking Platinum pair finally made it to the toes-to-bar moments before PBM set off on their lunges. Grimacing with every step, Appel crossed the finished line, taking the win for PBM.
“It was terrible,” said a team member from the deflated Platinum team. “We got stuck on handstand push-ups. We don’t usually, but strange things happen in competitions.”
Although PBM won the heat, Platinum still holds the lead overall.
“Even though we can’t win the competition now, we are here to prove a point and are aiming to win the next event too,” said Appel.
1. Team CrossFit PBM (14:21)
2. Team CrossFit Platinum (15:18)