May 8, 2014
'Massive Opportunity' for Latin America's Teams
By Lauryn Lax
"For the past two years, CrossFit 7 Mile ... has been dominating the Latin American team competition. Fortunately for us, they have pulled out ... There is a massive opportunity for a spot at the…
"For the past two years, CrossFit 7 Mile ... has been dominating the Latin American team competition. Fortunately for us, they have pulled out ... There is a massive opportunity for a spot at the…

"For the past two years, CrossFit 7 Mile ... has been dominating the Latin American team competition. Fortunately for us, they have pulled out ... There is a massive opportunity for a spot at the Games," Marco Obon of CrossFit 506 said.

For the past two years, Team CrossFit 7 Mile dominated the team competition in the Latin America Region, finishing first place in both 2012 and 2013.  

This year, the Team CrossFit 7 Mile is not competing, offering other contending teams in Latin America hope that they'll take the region's one berth to the CrossFit Games.

“Our team that went to the Games the past two years is not competing this year,” said Carl Brenton, owner of CrossFit 7 Mile and former team member. “My wife, Wanda (Brenton) is going individual, and the rest of the team is taking the year off. Our affiliate is sending a team to regionals though.”

The affiliate’s new team—the 7 Milers—is compiled of many first-time regional competitors. The team managed to finish in 23rd place in the Open.

With CrossFit 7 Mile out of the running, though, several new team names managed to find their way to the top of the Leaderboard following the Open, including CrossFit Revolver (fourth place), CrossFit 506 (sixth place) and CrossFit 1810 (eighth place).

All three teams stressed that, unlike CrossFit competition within the other 16 regions around the world, competition in Latin America is not just about representing a CrossFit affiliate—it’s about representing each team’s individual country.

CrossFit 1810 is happy to have home-field advantage this year in its backyard of Santiago, Chile. Box owner and team member Luis Casali said he is excited to have the Chilean people there giving the team support.

“Chile is well known for being a strong country—and our team exemplifies this. People are invested in one another and give help and support to those in need,” Casali said. “From a special situation, like earthquakes, to the regional competition, we work together in order to overcome all obstacles.”

One of those obstacles includes the team’s 23rd-place finish in the 2013 Open and their 15th-place finish during their first regional competition last year.

The team did not advance past Event 2 of the overhead squat complex, receiving a DNF on the first day of competition. This year, Casali said, the eighth-place Open finishers are a different team.

“This year, things will change—there will be some upsets,” he said. “CrossFit 1810 classified for the top 10 during the Open and we will fight to be in the top five at regionals.”

Casali attributed the team’s growth to experience, with a year of training and competing together now under its belt.

Casali also acknowledged that while his team’s goal is no different than any other team’s—a podium finish—members of CrossFit 1810 ultimately hope to join forces with other teams in the region to establish the formerly ‘weaker’ Latin America Region as an equal competitor.

“Every day there are more members and affiliates here in Latin America—CrossFit is growing,” Casali said. “There are even more and more local fitness events being host in different countries and CrossFit athletes traveling to compete. In general, the Latin America Region—and Chile—is taking things seriously. We all want to win a space for the Games, and the primary idea is to raise the level of competition with the rest of the world. We all want to give Latin America a name around the world.”

Marco Obon, coach of team CrossFit 506, echoed Casali’s vision. In the team’s first year competing at regionals together, CrossFit 506 will become the first CrossFit team ever to represent its country, Costa Rica, and make a run to bring a new level of competition (and attitude) to the CrossFit Games.

“The popularity of CrossFit is growing tremendously in Latin America,” Obon said. “For example, in Costa Rica we only had two boxes in 2012 and today in 2014 we have 18 affiliates.”

“The potential of Latin America, holding its own in CrossFit, is exciting, and we are happy to be a part of that,” he added. “Although Costa Rica is very small in comparison to other Latin American nations, we are extremely unique in the fact the we have been ranked two years in a row as the world’s happiest country—it’s true.”

Obon is keeping positive, and encouraging his team to do the same in their final weeks of training before the regional, reminding his athletes that “Cinderella” stories do exist.

“For the past two years, CrossFit 7 Mile from the Cayman Islands has been dominating Latin America in team competition. Fortunately for us, they have pulled out from this year’s competition as some of their members have chosen to compete as individuals,” Obon said. “Therefore, there is a massive opportunity for a spot at the Games and we are hoping that being a completely unknown team and the underdog from a small country like Costa Rica, will work in our favor to surprise our top rivals from Panama, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, St. Thomas, Uruguay and Brazil.”

Also in its first year of regional competition is Team CrossFit Revolver from Mexico.

“Team competition means a lot more than representing our box or our hometown,” said team member Hector Hernandez. “We are going to Chile to represent Mexico. Making it to regionals for the first time is a huge thing to be proud of for us, but there is also the responsibility of giving our best and make the CrossFit community of Mexico shine. The culture of Mexico is full of folklore and traditions. Hopefully qualifying for regionals will become one of those traditions.”

The team is willing to do whatever it takes to show the region, and world, that its fourth-place finish in the Open is only the foreshadowing of a fight to come at regionals.  

“The trip to Chile is about 5,000 total miles away from Mexico,” Henandez said. “That’s a long ways away for us, and is not as affordable as we would like it to be to travel there. … But, we will be there! We have been raising funds doing raffles and selling T-shirts.”

The challenge of funding the trip to Chile aside, Hernandez said he thinks the greatest challenge during competition will be the team’s inexperience.

“We are definitely an underdog in this competition among some of the more seasoned teams,” he said, “but we have been training hard and are going there ready to have the most fun possible on each workout and give our 110 percent. We trust that, with good strategy, we can get ahead maximizing our teams strengths.”

Those strengths include Gibran Rodriguez’s Olympic lifting background, with a clean and jerk of 350 lb. and snatch more than 240 lb.; and Sandra Kolam’s 200-lb. clean and 350-lb. deadlift to name a few.

Even though Team BIGG Friends from Argentina finished third and have a valid shot at the podium, they are most excited to get to know the entire Latin America CrossFit community.

“I want to see how my team does after so much effort and will, but I’m here mostly to meet the community and help in whatever possible,” said owner Ignacio Alsogaray.

“We would of liked to have more time to prepare, having to go in the first weekend of regionals,” Alsogaray added, “but it was OK. No events are 100 percent under control, and the handstand walk and the muscle-up might give us some trouble, but we are not so concerned. They have improved a lot as athletes in the past year, and they are all great friends, which is what we value most.”

Getting to the Games has been a dream for them since they began training, but being at regionals is already a dream come true.