"I have seen massive improvements in the athletes representing the UK this year ... that will hopefully give Denmark and Iceland a run for their money," Briggs says.
Although Samantha Briggs may have had to pull out of this year’s competition due to a fractured patella, the steely Brit has decided to put her energy into giving the rest of the British women a fighting chance by taking some of the hopefuls to a special training camp at The Cross in Portugal.
“I organized the trip mainly to get together a few of the girls so we could train and learn from each other, with Regionals coming up I thought it would really benefit a few of them. In my experience you always push yourself harder when training with others rather than on your own so I thought it would help us all,” Briggs explains.
“I have seen massive improvements in the athletes representing the UK this year, but at the same time I'm sure athletes from all the other European countries have been training hard, ready for the ultimate test of fitness. I think there are a few strong individuals and teams emerging this year that will hopefully give Denmark and Iceland a run for their money!”
Amongst the party were individual Regional qualifiers Nicola Simpson, Marlene Chi Andersson and Ellie Carter-Silk, as well as CrossFit Leeds team members Chloe Barrett, Rosie Plowman and Sarah Stewart. Other top UK athletes; Hayley Knowles, Joslyn Thompson and Rebecca Hughes also took part.
When Simpson first learned of the training camp, she was hoping for an intensive training weekend. “The only part that let me down was the weather,” she says. “It was a great opportunity for sharing training tips and to compete against each other in a friendly supportive environment. Sam did most of the programming, including having us all swim in a freezing cold lake, which she assured us was character building, but of course it also helps to prepare us for all eventualities.”
Barratt, who will be on the Leeds team for the second year, came away from the trip feeling rejuvenated and ready for Regionals. “Although we trained hard, it was also an opportunity to eat lots of good food and sleep plenty. The location was beautiful and provided a respite from reality. I also got a PR power snatch and squat clean at the camp, which was a real bonus.
“I think everyone has something to bring to the table, but particularly Sam, who did all our programming, and when she told me to get in the lake and swim I did. You know if Sam is telling you to do something it will benefit you, so you shut up and get on with it. Given the opportunity to train alongside the 4th fittest woman in the world doesn't happen in many sports. She demonstrates the skills, determination and talent required to make it to the top and it is an eye opening insight into what the top-level athletes do to get to where they are. It is incredible.”
Stewart was impressed with the amount of movements and skills covered over the few days. “We spent time on key movements for regional’s which was beneficial and everyone achieved PRs over the course of the weekend, so you can’t ask for more than that.”
All of the UK women thought the training camp was a positive addition to their training and think it should be a regular feature. “I think people should make an effort to get together more, you don't have to leave the country,” Simpson says. “It's a good idea to join forces and make each other stronger, more determined. I think it also joins you in spirit for big events such as Regionals, so you feel like you’re there as a team and it's not so intimidating being an individual.”
Hayley Knowles also saw a huge benefit in taking time out to concentrate purely on training with the people who you also compete with. “It can boost morale and iron out any chinks in the armor, and will hopefully build a stronger presence for the UK women at Regionals.”