April 24, 2012
Africa's Leading Lady: Wilna Appel
By Riann Hofmeyr

"Sport is my passion and CrossFit is just what I needed to maintain my fitness and competitive streak."

Wilna Appel has become a common name at the top of the Africa Leaderboard and among African CrossFitters. The Pretoria-based athlete has grown from strength to strength since winning the first competition she entered. Appel’s amazing start to her CrossFit career was further lit up by a titanic struggle with Rika Diedericks for 1st place in the region in the Open.

Besides Workout 12.2, Appel placed 1st in all the Open events making her the victor of the battle with Diedericks. This accomplishment was a clear indication of her ability to perform strongly at all elements and in all time domains. Appel’s performances in her relatively young CrossFit history, coupled with her charisma and drive to succeed, have many backing her to win the Africa Regional competition. 

Appel has always been involved in sports. She played provincial hockey and tennis at school level and continued with hockey up to the national under 21 level. “Sport is my passion and CrossFit is just what I needed to maintain my fitness and competitive streak,” she says.

Appel was introduced to CrossFit by a couple of Australians while working in Indonesia. Her interest in the sport grew when she returned to South Africa and joined Ballistix Fitness in Pretoria in May 2011. This facility has since become CrossFit PBM, which Appel now co-runs. “If not involved in CrossFit I would have worked in sports anyways,” she says.  

Appel believes endurance and gymnastics are her strengths, and notes she is continuously working to improve her Olympic lifting. Given her performance in the Open, she feels all the hard work is paying off.

Appel says she enjoyed the battle for 1st with Diedericks. “It is the competitive nature and love of sport that we both share that makes us such worthy adversaries,” she says. “This will be the first of many battles between us.”

In the spirit of CrossFit, she maintains a lot of respect for Diedericks and fellow competitors.

Appel’s main goal at the start of the Open was to qualify for Regionals. She was surprised and humbled by her 1st place result. “It is going to take a massive performance over the three-day period to win Regionals, but I am going to take it day by day and make sure that I give nothing but my best.”