As CrossFit competitors and fans scan the Leaderboard for their favorite athletes’ positions in the Open, absent is the South East’s only 2011 CrossFit Games champion.
Steve Anderson, who won the men’s Masters 55-59 division in 2011, found out after an MRI during the first week of the Open, that he has a 360-degree tear of the labrum in his left shoulder.
Anderson is scheduled to have surgery in April, and will be in a sling for up to six weeks. He will also have to go through extensive rehab. He has been told he cannot train for at least four months.
This setback altered Anderson's plan to defend his title in 2012, but he’s already planning ahead for the 2013 Games.
Anderson hadn’t stepped foot inside a CrossFit gym until after the first workout in Open last year. He was a 55-year-old gym rat who worked out at L.A. Fitness and only got into CrossFit because his college roommate convinced him to try it.
After 11.1, where his son filmed him in his backyard on the last day to submit scores, Anderson was 8th overall. From there, he decided to do subsequent workouts at CrossFit Paragon in order learn the movements and get validated. He went to Paragon only one day per week to knock out the Open workouts, and when the competition ended, Anderson was 7th overall, qualifying for the Games.
Anderson initially decided not to go to California. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” he says. But his friends convinced him to go. He had to represent the community.
That’s when he decided to join CrossFit Paragon full time and got one-on-one coaching from trainer Chace Wheaton. Wheaton taught him how to do specific movements and flow from one movement to another. He also helped Anderson improve his big weakness – overhead squats. Anderson flat out couldn’t do overhead squats because of severe tightness in his shoulders from prior injuries. After extensive mobility, he was able to do overhead squats just one week before the Games.
At the Games, Anderson placed 5th in the first event and won Event 2, the max clean and jerk, with a 235-pound lift. At that point, he knew he had a chance to win it all. Anderson also knew he belonged. Anderson scored two more 1st place finishes, and a 3rd place to take the crown.
For Anderson, it was a wild ride from zero experience in CrossFit to Games champion in a matter of months. Now, he's looking beyond surgery and rehab to return to the sport for the 2013 season.