March 21, 2013
Olympic Weightlifter Does CrossFit: Nora Koppel
By Lucas Caruso

Nora Koppel holds records in Latin America in her Olympic lifts. Now, she's trying her hand at CrossFit.

When the Argentine Olympic weightlifter, Nora Koppel, signed up for the 2013 Open — her first one — she knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task.

Koppel has participated in three Olympic Games, has won an Olympic Diploma, has been ranked fourth in the world and earned the Pan-American record on the snatch and clean and jerk. The records were a 253-lb. snatch and a 326-lb. clean and jerk in the 165-pound female category. Now, she has also taken on a new challenge and has enrolled in the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Open.

As a youngster, Koppel practiced gymnastics up until the age of 25 when she met Olympic lifting coach, Sergio Parra. She put her heart and soul into training despite the criticisms she received from the media for being too old to start competing in this discipline. Evidently, they were wrong.

Then she found CrossFit.

“Santiago Terbalaca introduced me to CrossFit,” she says. “After Santiago attended a few Olympic weightlifting classes given by my coach, Sergio Parra, I was intrigued by the level of fitness he demonstrated in every class and I wanted to know right away what CrossFit was all about.”

Even with her new sport, Koppel is still dedicated to weightlifting.

“Olympic weightlifting is still part of my life. I train hard, give classes and I may still compete this year,” she explains. “Despite being an amateur and not a well-known sport in Argentina, I have received support from the Secretaría de Deportes de la Nación and from the International Olympic Committee because of my achievements. CrossFit has contributed a lot to the growth of this discipline, even more than the (Olympic Lifting) National Federation of my country in years. And the contribution that it has given is that it allows me to show this discipline to everyone, not only to the specialists.”

Nowadays, she and her coach teach weightlifting classes at CrossFit Tuluka.

“It’s really amazing to teach a class of 30 (people), both men and women. After so many years (of training the sport), having this possibility of being part of this huge community in constant growth and development, who are so avid of acquiring knowledge of this discipline; it fills me with pride and joy, it is priceless,” Perr says. “With Nora being the exception, every single Olympic athlete I have trained in my professional life did not have the enthusiasm that my students show here at CrossFit Tuluka. That is a lot to say considering they are not Olympic athletes, but instead are lawyers, accountants and housewives.”

Despite the fact that Koppel holds Pan-American records and has trained primarily strength, she knew beforehand that the Open was going to be tough. She is humble enough, and was expecting other CrossFitters in Latin America with more experience to be above her on the Leaderboard. But not being the best was not enough to stop her.

“Learning and experiencing new things is what life is all about, and participating in the Open was no exception,” she says. “Despite some pressure that I might feel every time I compete in a sports event, I always remember what Terbalaca told me: ‘Leave your ego aside.‘ I’m aware that I must continue improving in every single aspect of my physical skills, and CrossFit Tuluka is doing a great job helping me with that.”

Koppel knows the possibilities of qualifying for Regionals as an Individual this year are slim, but she would love to be able to go to Guayaquil as part of the CrossFit Tuluka team. She says she’s less concerned with her results and more thankful for the opportunity to learn throughout the Open.

“CrossFit Tuluka is a revolution. They are doing a great job introducing the general population to gymnastics, weightlifting, endurance activities … Working at CrossFit Tuluka doesn’t feel like I’m really working,” she says. “Instead, I feel that I’m exchanging knowledge and passions with my students and other coaches …”

Koppel earned 140 reps in 13.1 and 208 reps in 13.2. While she says 13.3 doesn’t play to her strengths, she’ll work her hardest and do her best.