Sixteen-year-old Rebecca Fuselier stepped onto the arena floor for the first time at the 2016 CrossFit Games, competing in the Girls 16-17 division. That same year, 21-year-old Brooke Wells would take sixth in the individual division. Flash forward five years, Fuselier has claimed her first ticket to the CrossFit Games as an individual, not only earning a spot alongside Brooke Wells but also even beating her in two workouts at the 2022 Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge Semifinal this past weekend.
Following the 2016 CrossFit Games, Fuselier had one last go at the teen division before she advanced to the elite individual division. Upon her 18th birthday, she would be up against athletes with a decade of experience on her. Fuselier qualified for the CrossFit Games once again and finished out her teen career in 10th at the 2017 CrossFit Games.
Rebecca Fuselier at the 2017 CrossFit Games | Photo by Alicia Anthony
"Coming out of the teen division is a whole other world. (In the teen division) you're competing against a very small category, your age division and everything. And then, all of a sudden, you're thrown into the fire with everybody," Fuselier said.
For the next five years, Fuselier put her head down and ramped up her training, dialing in her nutrition and working on her weaknesses. She had to keep up with the ever-evolving sport, where the athletes continued to get stronger every year, making it that much harder to qualify for the CrossFit Games.
The expectations in the individual category were far greater than in the teen division. Athletes were expected to clean over 200 lb, walk on their hands over parallettes, and even swim and immediately perform bar muscle-ups.
Returning to the CrossFit Games would be no small feat.
Built at CrossFit Bolt
CrossFit Bolt opened its doors in 2011, and Colleen Fuselier, Fuselier's mother, was a member within six months. A few years later, in 2013, Fuselier decided to join the gym, quitting competitive gymnastics after 10 years to focus on the new sport. The affiliate soon became her home away from home.
Just a few months after the 2017 CrossFit Games, Fuselier became a coach and personal trainer at CrossFit Bolt, spending over 12 hours at the gym a day between training and coaching.
"That is my home. I'm definitely there more than at my actual home. Our community is the best. They're family. It represents everything that you want CrossFit to be," she said.
In between coaching members, Fuselier has been working with her coach, Matt McCraney, to become an athlete well-rounded enough to qualify for the CrossFit Games once again — now as an individual.
"He slowly started incorporating more volume, really tailoring up my training for my body and to the areas that I needed to progress in really well, year by year," Fuselier said. "And now I feel like we're finally becoming that well-rounded athlete that we want. But it's been more volume, more time and effort going into the behind-the-scenes of nutrition and prepping. All that stuff has added up to this."
Breaking up her training into multiple sessions throughout the day to fit in between her coaching hours, Fuselier spent four to six hours a day pushing her body to its limits to make it back to the CrossFit Games.
2021 was her breakthrough year.
Fuselier advanced past the Open in the individual division for the first time and went on to take 111th in North America at the Individual Quarterfinals, finishing out her season in 12th at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge. This was the closest she had been to a CrossFit Games ticket since 2017. Just one more year of training and she would be there.
“It’s hard to describe everything that goes into training. Easiest way to put it is, it’s a roller coaster. And when you’re on this ride you get all the ups and downs, the excitement of success, the pain of failure, and the stress of uncertainty. You are constantly learning how to balance every ounce of effort. Things go right. Things go wrong. It’s a game of a lot of grit and a lot of patience,” Fuselier said in an Instagram post after closing out her 2021 season at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge.
Returning to the CrossFit Games
Throughout the years, Fuselier's rankings have consistently improved: She took 601st worldwide in the 2018 Open, 146th in 2020, 133rd in 2021, and 60th in 2022. Heading into the 2022 Quarterfinals, the 22-year-old was confident that this was her year. She took 59th in North America in the Individual Quarterfinal, appearing once again at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge for redemption.
The 2022 MACC roster included the names of four previous Games athletes. That left at least one spot for a rookie to appear at the Games, and Fuselier was determined to grab the ticket. Throughout the weekend, Fuselier climbed the leaderboard, establishing her spot in the third heat at the close of Day 1.
Rebecca Fuselier during Event 4 at the 2022 MACC | Photo by flsportsguy photography
The leaderboard shifted continuously up until the very last day, but as the women lined up for the sixth and final event, only one point kept Fuselier in the fifth-place position over Shelby Neal in sixth, and only five points separated her from Kelly Clark in seventh. In a lunge-off between Fuselier and Clark, Fuselier dropped her bar just feet ahead of the finish line, allowing Clark to pass her and secure second place in the event. Fuselier quickly reset and crossed the finish line soon after, securing third.
It was an intense few minutes following the finale. Did Clark secure enough of a lead over Fuselier to snatch the final Games-qualifying spot? As the top five names began to be called, a tense silence spread across the crowd as spectators anxiously awaited the fifth qualifier.
Fuselier's name boomed across the arena. She had finished in the fifth-place position by only one point over Clark.
"The whole weekend, I've just been imagining that scenario of being in that spot and everything, and it didn't feel real," she said.
Tears began to stream down Fuselier's face. She had done it. She had qualified for the CrossFit Games for the first time since 2017, this time within the most advanced division within the CrossFit Games.
"These are the girls I've looked up to. These are the girls that have pushed me and made me better as an athlete and a competitor. I'm ready to keep getting after it," Fuselier said.
Rebecca Fuselier after her name was called in the top 5 | Photo by flsportsguy photography
Rewatch the 2022 Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge
Cover photo by flsportsguy photography