April 23, 2013
Africa's New Leading Ladies
By Candice Tehini

The 2013 Open ended with a stack of new female competitors atop the Africa Leaderboard.

Photo by: Madeleine Loman, Midge & Co.


Photo by: Shelley Vernon


Photo by: Gary Seymour


Landscape photo by: Shelley Vernon


The 2013 Open ended with a stack of new female competitors atop the Africa Leaderboard — with some of them only CrossFitting for less than a year.

Nicole Seymour, who finished second, started CrossFit in March right before the Open. Seymour, however, is no stranger to sporting competitions.

“I was a gymnast from about the age of 4 to 13 and then went on to play hockey fairly seriously until I turned 20. I then turned my attention to competing in fitness shows and I only stopped about two years ago when I fell pregnant with my second child.”

Carla Nunes da Costa, who finished third, has much more experience behind her.

“I heard about it through a friend,” she recalls. “I Googled it and was so interested in it that I immediately signed up for a Level 1 course in 2010. So my first ever experience with CrossFit was at the Level 1 course where we did Fran on steroids.”

Nunes da Costa used to be a sprint canoeist and raced for both South African and Dutch teams, as well as a veteran of several local competitions.

Another newer name on the Leaderboard, Janine Prinsloo found out about CrossFit after seeing it on ESPN toward the end of 2012.

“No one in Polokwane knew about it, and then one day I saw a man wearing a CrossFit T-shirt. I walked up to him and asked him where I could do it, and he told me he was just finalizing his affiliation,” she says. “He’s now my coach.”

Prinsloo placed fourth in the Open.

Tied with Prinsloo in fourth is Mary Jamieson. Jamieson has been doing CrossFit for eight months. She comes from a strong athletic background having competed at a high level in karate, rugby, water polo and hockey.

“I achieved a few personal bests (in the Open) and learnt a lot about what I need to work on,” she says. “I also took it a lot more seriously than I originally intended.”

Going into the Open, Seymour explains that because she was so new to CrossFit, all she was focusing on was the movement standards and techniques.

Prinsloo was just as excited to see what the Open was all about.

“I did not know what to expect,” she says. “There were a few curveballs like the muscle-ups. It was everything I expected and more, but after all, it is CrossFit. I really enjoyed competing. Now I know more about myself and what I am capable of.”

In contrast, Nunes da Costa had an injury to deal with in her lead up to the Open.

“Things took a toll when I seriously injured both wrists and could not do anything like a push-up, let alone a handstand push-up,” she remembers. “Olympic lifting was also out, so it was quite a frustrating time.”

Although experienced, the Open exposed chinks in her armor, too.

“I learnt that my endurance has to improve, but I am strong and I can still do muscle-ups,” Nunes da Costa says. “It also showed me that I need to stop faffing around and go to sleep early.” 

When reminiscing about the Open, each lady had different experiences. For Prinsloo, it was achieving her first-ever muscle-up.

“My most memorable moment was when I got my first-ever ring muscle-up!”

For Jamieson, the workouts she suffered in the most were the ones she enjoyed the most.

“I’m a sucker for punishment I guess,” she jokes. “My favorite workout was 13.1. I love snatches, and I love to hate burpees.”

These athletes are now en-route to the Africa Regional.

Seymour learned that gymnastics are her strength, but she needs to work on her weightlifting. She will be working closely with a new coach to get Regional ready.

“I know I have a lot of work ahead of me because the competition is so strong.”

Prinsloo will continue to train under David van Reyneveld and Charl Liversage at CrossFit Polokwane.

“Placing in the top five motivated me to do better. I am very excited and feel that it’s a privilege to compete and to test myself against the fittest in Africa.”

Bjorn Uddenfeldt from CrossFit Uppsala in Sweden handles Nunes da Costa’s programming. She will be going individual.

“If I mess it up I have no one else to blame but me!”

For Jamieson, finishing in the top five has just wet her appetite for more.

“I plan on making life difficult for the top three, and I’m looking forward to training for Regionals.”

Based on the roster, Jamieson has decided she will be going team.

Be it team or individual at the 2013 Africa Regional, these new leading ladies are going to be exciting athletes to look out for.