While captain of the Hong Kong Sevens National Team, Anthony Haynes’ team won the Asian Championship in 2012 and went all the way to the Rugby...

"This is the first time I'm attempting the Open properly ... I have high hopes."

Photos courtesy of Norman Jaillet.

Known by most in Asia’s sporting community for his skills on the rugby field, Anthony "Ant" Haynes is an athlete to watch during the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games Open.

While captain of the Hong Kong Sevens National Team, Haynes’ team won the Asian Championship in 2012 and went all the way to the Rugby Sevens World Cup the following year. Known for his footwork and explosive power, Haynes has been playing professional rugby since 2007. This year, he brings his talent to CrossFit.

During his first few CrossFit experiences, Haynes was challenged both physically and mentally. Then came an opportunity to experience the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games live in Carson, Calif. Watching elite athletes compete in a series of physical tasks that pushed them to their limits and surrounded by a crowd of like-minded enthusiasts was like nothing he ever experienced before.

“CrossFit is an awesome new sport for me,” he said. “I've had loads of sporting challenges throughout the past 20-odd years, but none of them have truly challenged me like CrossFit has.”

Following his heart, Haynes put his professional rugby career on hold to give his all to CrossFit this year. In line with his newfound passion, Haynes also opened a box, CrossFit CSTL, with his brother. Opening its doors in March of 2013, CrossFit CSTL is part of Hong Kong’s fast-growing CrossFit scene.

"This is the first time I'm attempting the Open properly,” Haynes said. “It's also the first time I'll be inputting my score online. I have high hopes.”

This comes a year after he was disqualified after failing to upload his video due to his busy rugby schedule. Training with a group of athletes who hope to make it to the Asia Regional, Haynes wants to represent not only CrossFit CSTL, but also Hong Kong.

As the youngest player ever fielded by the Hong Kong Sevens team, Haynes has worked hard to achieve his goals. Having done Olympic lifting during his years of rugby training, Haynes is familiar with the basic lifts and has been working hard to improve his technique and numbers.

Emerging from obscurity at the Sin City Invitational in December, Haynes performed consistently, going head-to-head against CrossFit athletes who are serious contenders in the region. By the time he swept first place, everyone knew his name. Since then, there has been no looking back.

Building momentum for the Open and the year ahead, the 24-year-old has been working with coach DJ Wickham, who is based in Calgary, Canada, over the past few weeks. Communicating through email, video and weekly Skype sessions, Haynes has been working hard to improve his lifts and skills. He recently set a personal record with a 125-kg clean and jerk and a CrossFit Total of 480 kg.

Haynes said he has also learnt to pace himself better in a workout and improved on his transitions between movements in the past month. Haynes will continue to work on triple-unders and handstand walks. He’s doing whatever he can to prepare for the unknown and unknowable.

Updated Feb. 28, 2014--Haynes' clean and jerk PR was corrected to 125-kg rather than 130-kg.