March 4, 2012
Putting on the Brits
By Jane Holgate
Will 2012 be the year of the Brits?
Will 2012 be the year of the Brits?

Will 2012 be the year of the Brits?

Ellie Carter

Nicola Simpson


Andy Edwards


Hayley Knowles


Adam Shackell


Maz Glover


Dafydd Dennis



It’s fair to say over the last couple of years, with the exception of Samantha Briggs, the UK CrossFit community has lived in the shadows of its fellow Europeans, particularly the Scandinavian and Icelandic contingent.  So, how are they fighting back and will 2012 be the year of the Brits?

The recent SicFit London Throwdown was a timely test of who could be in contention throughout Open and Regional.

The British Men’s field has always been a closely fought battle, and there is no out and out favorite. However, the top British man in London was Cardiff’s Dragon CrossFit co-owner Andy Edwards and if actions speak louder than words, Edwards laid down his intentions loudly and clearly when he did a 2:46 “Fran” at the last event of the London Showdown.

His training has been going well as he has focused on raw power and skill work. He has also employed a coach to run his programming to ensure he keeps to the mantra of “unknown and unknowable.”

He is excited about what the Open will bring, believing CrossFit HQ will do a great job with programming the workouts.

Fellow Welshman and hotly tipped contender is Dafydd Dennis who was just squeezed out of the top 10 at the 2011 Regional.

He is feeling fitter and stronger this year, with his training going well and he’s been following the Outlaw Way with Rudy Nielsen, working on strength. He was also part of an Again Faster contingent who visited Coach Mike Burgener in January for some Olympic lifting work, which has resulted in some significant PRs. His goal with the Open is just to make it through to Regionals. He will be doing each workout just once. “I’ll be happy with 60th,” he says. “It’s all about Regional for me.”

CrossFit Teeside’s Lee Howe, would have been a serious contender this year had he not recently suffered a 12mm tear in his labrum.  With surgery taking place at the end of March, he is out for this year’s Games season, despite that he managed to clock 138 burpees in 12.1 giving us a taste of what might have been.

CrossFit Clitheroe’s Chris Templeman, West Yorkshire’s Stuart Trees, Bath’s Adam Shackell, and  Central London’s Robert Silver are other names to watch for.

On the women’s side, Sam Briggs continues to dominate and we are once again looking forward to a fierce battle between her and Annie Thorrisdottir at Regionals.

However, this year we have some other strong female contenders.

Good friend and training partner of Sam Briggs is Nicola Simpson. She has significantly improved all aspects of her game since being a member of the CrossFit Leeds team, which came 4th at last year’s Regional. Since then, she has been focusing on improving her strength, which she saw as her biggest weakness. She has made significant inroads there, proved by her coming first in the UK Strength and Power finals; taking 1st place in every event. Chippers suit her best, but she has also changed her overall approach to the Open, focusing more on staying in the top 60, then training for the next stage, rather than worrying about her position on the table. Expect her to be a strong contender for the podium at Regional.

The UK’s women’s field is definitely getting stronger and we can expect a lot from CrossFit 365’s Emma Keen, tipped by her coaches to be hot on Briggs’ tail. CrossFit Plymouth’s Ellie Carter-Silk are both likely to score high at Regionals. If sufficiently recovered from recent knee surgery, Hayley Knowles could also be a strong contender.

Hotly tipped and on fire for a top 20 place and so qualifying for the 45-49 year old Women’s Masters is CrossFit Plymouth’s Maz Glover. She missed qualifying by just two places last year, but the competition in the international Masters categories is such that she put in a performance that earned her a place in the European Regional.

With only 20 places up for grabs in each category and entries making up about 10 percent of the total Games entry, the Masters places are going to be more closely contended than ever.

Flying straight to the top of the 55-59 Masters Men’s division in Open Workout 12.1 is CrossFit Dragon’s John Lugg. A relative newcomer to CrossFit, starting after last year’s Games, John used to play professional rugby for Llanelli, before competing in County athletics 200m/400m, and then competing in the British Lifesaving events regularly winning the 100m and 200m swim events.  It will be a surprise if he doesn’t make the Top 20.

Another master wanting to exact revenge is Scotland’s Neil Foley – a qualifier in 2010, but missed out by the narrowest of margins in 2011. Foley is at the top end of the age category and admits his main focus now is on 2013.