May 7, 2013
Officer, Lifesaver, and Veteran Competitor: Cecilia Robinson
By Carter Jee

"One of the girls I worked with emailed me a copy of a CrossFit Journal article and I immediately resonated with it. I had been on the hunt for something more holistic than running and gym workouts ..."

Photos by: CrossFit Perth

What do Rob Forte, Megan Smith, Chris Hogan, Kieran Hogan, Amy Dracup, Drummond Williamson, Luke Starr, Ruth Anderson-Horrell and Cecilia Robinson have in common?

They have all competed in every Australia Regional since 2010, and have again qualified for this year’s event in Wollongong.

While athletes like Forte, Dracup, Smith, Anderson-Horrell and Hogan have made names for themselves at the CrossFit Games, Robinson holds a lower profile despite boasting one of the most impressive records in the region.

The 38-year-old finished fifth in her first Regional appearance in 2010, before placing ninth in 2011 and 17th in 2012.

This year, she is preparing for her fourth-straight Regional after finishing the Open in 39th place in Australia.

Growing up in Canberra, Robinson had an active upbringing with her two brothers.

"We usually spent our time racing on the BMX track, practicing Judo throws in the lounge room, racing down our cousin's driveway in go-karts or skateboarding in my Sunday best dress," Robinson says.

"I was certainly not going to be the ballerina mum wanted. Sorry mum!"

Robinson moved to Perth, Western Australia, in 2004 to join the Western Australia Police Force. It was at the police academy where Robinson found CrossFit.

"One of the girls I worked with emailed me a copy of a CrossFit Journal article and I immediately resonated with it," Robinson says. "I had been on the hunt for something more holistic than running and gym workouts, which were fast becoming boring."

Robinson's exposure to CrossFit continued with a chance meeting with her now long-time coach, Jas Pelham, from CrossFit Perth.

"I met Cee at a sports shop when she spotted me wearing my CrossFit Level 1 T-shirt," Pelham says. "My first impression of Cee was that she was focused, loved life and a real people person."

Robinson has seen CrossFit evolve over the years.

"In 2010, everything was new to everyone and it was small — both in competitors and crowd," she says.

"It was held at the Randwick Racecourse (Sydney), all our lifts were on the grass, on top of heavy, rubber matting with holes in them. It was a no-rep every time the bar rolled off the mat, which was hard as the ground was undulating. A lot of people got their first muscle-up at that event, too.

“2011 was a bit of a wake-up call. The weights were heavier and included more skilled gymnastics components."

Robinson finds she is most successful in competitions when she goes in with an attitude of “keeping it fun.”

"I started wearing a superhero T-shirt. Spiderman and Batman both made their appearances," she says.

"2012 in Wollongong scared me. I felt under a lot of pressure in the lead-up to perform well. I forced the approach of keeping it fun by painting my nails bright orange. I looked at my nails every time I felt nervous or overwhelmed."

Last year, Robinson finished 17th at the Australia Regional — her worst performance in her four years as a top competitor.

The result exposed holes in her training.

The mixture of random work as a police officer and a volunteer surf-lifesaver meant Robinson's training was often disrupted.

Pelham works hard with Robinson to balance the demands of both jobs while maintaining her performance as a CrossFit athlete.

"Cee's surf life-saving and police work has a devastating effect on her training. I would say that she gets 50 percent less time training, and often that time is not ideal, as she is only able to train at 90 percent,” Pelham says.

“She’s unable to train very hard or often due to the lack of ability to recover. I often ask how much sleep Cecilia has had when she comes in to train.”

In 2010, Robinson's work capacity was tested as she tried to juggle work, play and CrossFit.

She crewed for her surf club at the Australian Surf Lifesaving Nationals, competed in the Australia Regional and completed the demanding police tactical response group selection course in three consecutive weekends.

In 2012, illness and lung problems meant Robinson only had three months to prepare for Regionals.

But heading into this year’s Regionals, Robinson has made a number of changes to her lifestyle.

She now holds an investigative role with the Western Australia Police meaning training is easier.

"It has a more stable roster — 8 to 4:00, Monday to Friday," Robinson says. "I sometimes work shifts outside of this time, and still do overtime."

Robinson has also given up racing for her surf club.

"It was really fun, but it still hasn't stopped my patrol captain asking me to race again every time he sees me," she says.

Robinson has also made adjustments to her training, spending more time working on her weaknesses.

"She has spent a lot of time working through shoulder mobility issues, which limits her overhead movements," Pelham says.

"Cee has a huge engine which is limited with workouts that contain overhead movements such as handstand push-ups and the Olympic lifts."

Pelham credits Robinson's success in CrossFit to her determination, mental resilience, ability to thrive under pressure and desire to live her life to the fullest.

Robinson continues to express her fitness in various ways, whether it be policing, surf life-saving or CrossFit.

"I love being in the pointy end of policing. I love patrolling the beaches as a volunteer surf life-saver and I love competing in CrossFit," Robinson says. "I'd have my life in no other way."