At the tail end of the Iran-Iraq war, Azadeh Boroumand’s family fled the Middle East and immigrated to Canada. At only 3-years-old, she watched as her parents strove for a better life, against all odds. In this fight, Boroumand was instilled with a spirit of survival and perseverance that would one day emanate through her during every workout.
“Growing up, our first language was Farsi, and my dad had to grind to get us through,” says Boroumand. “We grew up on literally nothing. On top of that, my mother was diagnosed with minor schizophrenia. Despite all those challenges though, my dad never let it stop him and we made it through.”
Boroumand sees her father’s sense of resolve and determination expressed through her as the fortitude she possesses when the bar starts to weigh heavy, or the reps begin to climb. “Because of him, I put my heart and soul into everything I do. Because of my parents I know that I’m blessed and I can’t take this opportunity for granted. I push myself to my limits to make them proud and show my appreciation for their strength.”
Throughout her youth, Boroumand’s personal and athletic tenacity was constantly pressed. “My father was a physical education teacher and wrestling coach, so he always made competition and sports an important part of our lives,” she recalls. “He pushed us to work hard and believe that we could do anything.”
Her father’s motivation led to a successful stretch as a collegiate athlete for the University of Pittsburgh women’s volleyball team. Throughout her time as a Division 1 athlete, Boroumand broke school records and received the ranking of first among all Big East Conference players and 47th nationally among setters.
While challenges aren’t new to Boroumand, her resolve in the CrossFit arena was first tested in 2011. At the end of the 2011 Open, she finished at 3rd place in the South Central region and 25th worldwide. She had high hopes for qualification to the CrossFit Games. At the Regional competition, however, difficulty in some of the early workouts, and an equipment malfunction during the first evemt of the final day would usurp her aspirations.
The “ring slip,” as its come to be known, occurred during “Amanda.” Boroumand released her grip after completing her eighth muscle-up only to feel her ring strap catch on her neck. The rings subsequently flew out of position and judges scurried to return them to working order. After a 1-minute delay, the judges gave Boroumand the option to restart. She declined and opted to push through with uneven rings. Regardless of this stumbling block, she finished 3rd overall — only 17 seconds ahead of Carey Kepler.
A year later, Boroumand reflects on the incident. “You know, I could care less about the rings. At the end of the day, the rings didn’t affect anything. I had trouble in some of the early WODs with things like handstand push-ups and all week I was playing catch up. Despite the rings, it was still one of my better events and I can’t be upset about my performance.”
With optimism, Boroumand, who trains and coaches at Get Lifted Gym in El Paso, Texas, insists that over the last 12 months she has been exposing and working to develop the weaknesses, like her handstand push-ups, which were exposed in Tomball, Texas last year. Her training has included an increase in speed work, endurance, and body weight challenges to supplement her biggest asset — physical strength. On top of a 215-pound clean and 150-pound snatch, ask Boroumand what she's been training the most and she'll say it’s her mindset.
“I really believe that it’s your mentality that sets you apart,” she explains. “When you’re strong mentally, your actions and training will speak for themselves. I like to think just do your best with this opportunity that you have. All that other stuff is for the birds.”
With the prospect of the 2012 Games on the horizon, Boroumand is looking forward to her second chance. “I feel good, this is what we train for all year and if it’s God’s plan for me to go the Games, that’s where I’ll be. For now, I’m just grateful for my chance to compete.”
As one of the few Iranian women in sports, Boroumand sees blessings not only within her abilities, but also within her culture, “Being an Iranian woman in fitness is almost unheard of because it’s not even allowed. At the end of day, we take so much for granted. The fact that I can workout in a sports bra and speak my mind is so cool and simply amazing. I want to be a representative for women who don’t have that. For me, an Iranian woman at the CrossFit Games would give so many people hope and inspiration. I’m going to give it my all to try to make that happen.”