July 21, 2013
The Man Who Beat Mikko Salo: Lacee Kovacs
By Jane Holgate

"I didn't expect to come close to Mikko Salo to be honest, I was just hoping to finish in the top three."

At the 2012 Europe Regional, Hungarian Lacee Kovacs missed out on a Games bid by the narrowest of margins, finishing with the same amount of points as third-placed Númi Kartrínarson, but missing the cut due to Katrínarson’s first-place finishes.

Rather than let it get him down, Kovacs immediately focused on 2013.

“I worked harder than I have ever done before,” he says. “I wanted to prove to everyone, but more importantly to myself, that I can be at the Games.”

Fast forward one year and not only has the 26-year-old earned his ticket to Carson, Calif., he did it so convincingly he beat his role model and 2009 Games champion Mikko Salo.

Kovacs was surprised by the result.

“I didn’t expect to come close to Mikko Salo to be honest, I was just hoping to finish in the top three,” he says.

However, Kovacs was the model of consistency, with his lowest finish being seventh in Event 5.

“I finished first in the grueling 100s Event … and so I would have to say that it was my favorite, but I found Event 6 the hardest, maybe because it was so close to the end of the competition.”

Still, Kovacs finished Event 6’s chipper in second place in 10:42.

With the Regional in the bag, Kovacs now has his eye firmly set on the Games and has stepped up his training.

“To be at the Games was my dream, and now I am doing everything I can to prepare for it,” he says.

Kovacs does his own programming, but has employed a specialist coach to help him with Olympic lifting.

“I am working really hard on fine tuning my Olympic lifting skills, and I have also introduced swimming into my programming, although I am hoping there won’t be any swimming events this year. But whatever the events are, I know they will be testing and spectacular, and I am looking forward to them all.”

CrossFit is still in its infancy in Hungary and Kovacs has struggled to find training buddies.

“I have never had a training partner because I don’t know anybody here who is at my level,” he says. “However, my friends have recently opened the first affiliate in Hungary, in Budapest, and so I am hopeful that the sport will continue to grow in popularity and we can produce some more champions.”

Kovacs already has quite a large fan base and will have many friends supporting him in California.

“I hope I don’t disappoint them. I would like to finish in the top 20 and will be delighted to make the top 15, but one thing I am sure of is that Rich Froning is going to win again.”