May 11, 2012
Britney Holmberg on Deciding to Withdraw
By Jennifer Young

"I will rise to the top, just not today."


A week ago Britney Holmberg was feeling ready to challenge Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and Michelle Letendre for one of Canada East’s two spots to the Games.  She’d tested all of the workouts in practice, and had done Workout 2 faster than any of the women in Canada East finished it this Friday afternoon.

Holmberg was ready, but the Universe had other plans.

A week ago, Holmberg injured her back. A few days later while practicing rope climbs (to avoid heavy lifting) she fell off the rope and sprained an ankle. The day before the Canada East Regional began Holmberg took a walk to contemplate whether or not to compete. As though to add insult to literal injury, she stepped on a hornet’s nest and was stung multiple times.

Britney Holmberg did not have a good week.

Still, not one to back down from a challenge, Holmberg arrived Friday morning at the International Center planning to compete. “I had every intention of popping some pain killers and doing it anyway, but there was a red light in the back of my head that said I shouldn’t,” she says.

Holmberg knows from experience that she isn’t capable of putting on the breaks once the timer has started. “I know myself really well, and it’s all or nothing. I might have made it through the weekend, but I couldn’t have done what I’m capable of.”

So Holmberg made what she says was the hardest decisions she’s ever made, but probably the smartest. “Being the healthiest on earth is just as important as being the fittest on earth,” she says. “If I did something serious to my back I might never become a firefighter.”

Firefighting is Holmberg’s true passion.

Rather than spend the next several months recovering from a potentially more serious injury, Holmberg has chosen to wait a year and be ready to compete in 2013, and long into the future. “I want to be competing 25 years from now,” she says. “I want to do CrossFit for the rest of my life.”

You might expect fellow competitor Michelle Letendre to be breathing a little easier with one less contender to threaten her spot to the Games, but instead she feels disappointed not to be competing against the full field of talent. “Britney worked really, really hard. It sucks when someone is out from injury, it would have been really cool to finally compete against her,” says Letendre.

Holmberg is living out the biggest fear of any athlete approaching competition. “I can only imagine what she’s going through,” Letendre says. “For the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself asking things like ‘should I cross the street? What if I get hit by a car?’”

Holmberg seems to have come to terms with the situation and regained her sense of humor. “Michelle paid me not to compete,” she jokes. “But seriously, athletes get injured all the time. The ones that don’t deal with it properly, they never rise to the top. As a coach, I want to set an example because too many people push through when they shouldn’t.”

“Attitude determines Altitude,” she says, quoting the motto of CrossFit Altitude, her home affiliate. “Everything happens for a reason. I will rise to the top, just not today”