May 2, 2012
Fighting for One Spot: Latin America's Women
By Manuela Echeverri

Who will be the woman representing Latin America this year at the Home Depot Center?



With the Open concluded and Regionals fast approaching, the time has come to discuss the top individual women contenders in Latin America. This year’s Games season promises to be an exciting one; with 26 women registered as individuals for Regionals, compared to four in 2011, fans will have six times more female athletes to watch and cheer for.

In a region where only one individual woman can win a ticket to the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, there is no room for error throughout the grueling three days of competition. So who will be the woman representing Latin America this year at the Home Depot Center? 

Anita Pravatti is ready for the challenge. During the Open, Pravatti talked about her training and expectations. “My plans are to be number one in Latin America, but I know it’s not easy,” she says. 

It might not be easy, but the 25-year-old physical education teacher and co-owner of CrossFit Jundiai in Brazil, sets foot into Regionals with a 1st place finish in the Open. She signed up for the Open with the intention of experiencing it and confesses she did not think she was going to do so well this year. But now with the Open behind her, those expectations have changed. “I know my opponents are very good, and the best will win,” Pravatti says. “I will be very glad when the woman who is better prepared goes to the Games. I will do everything [I can] so that I am that woman.”

But Pravatti and all of the other female athletes will have to outperform the 2011 Latin American Regional winner, Tarasa Barnett. Already a force to be reckoned with, Barnett comes back to Regionals in 2012 stronger than ever. After the 2011 CrossFit Games, CrossFit Invictus’ CJ Martin started helping Barnett with her programming. By tackling her weaknesses she is very motivated to go back to California for a second year in a row. “[I] am doing everything I can to be back [at the CrossFit Games] again,” Barnett says. 

Another athlete with Games experience from the region is Nelly Fernanda Rodriguez. The Ecuadorian was the first Latin American woman to represent our region at the 2010 CrossFit Games. After a consistent performance throughout this year’s Open, Rodriguez finished 8th in Latin America and shows no signs of slowing down. 

From Argentina, Romina “Nega” Ibarra is also a very well known and loved athlete by the Latin American CrossFit community. After a 2nd place finish at the 2011 Latin American Regional, Ibarra won the heart of fans who are eager to watch her once again. The fans should also keep an eye for first-time competitors, Selene Saldivar, Ani Wieselmann and Munira Olarte. If the Open is a good indicator of performances at Regionals, these three women have a lot going in their favor.

Stats and numbers can only say so much in helping predict who the top female in the region will be after the weekend of May 11-13 in Cali, Colombia. The energy and atmosphere present at competition is not quantifiable and can make the unthinkable happen. Athletes have gained more experience as the sport grows exponentially in Latin America.