"I want to prove to everyone that I deserve to be there."
Steven Bergeron is regularly reminded of how young he is. But the 21-year-old kinesiology student from Red Deer, Alberta doesn’t mind. “Many don’t believe how young I am,” Bergeron says “They ask to see my ID.”
Bergeron earned an 11th-place finish in Canada West in the Open and an invite to the 2011 Canada West Regional. Last year he competed in the Open for fun, but this year he set his sights on advancing from the Open to Regionals.
Another year of training and a changed mindset made a difference. He climbed more than 50 places in the final standings, between 2011 and 2012. His best finishes in Canada West include 2nd on 12.3 and 3rd on 12.5.
As Bergeron prepares for the 2012 Canada West Regional, he tries to maintain realistic expectations. It can take years to reach one's peak--athletes can improve with age and experience.
“They say your physical peak comes around 25 for men,” he says. “I’m young. I haven’t reached my full potential yet and that’s one of the things that keeps me motivated.”
Yet several competitors who are under 25 are making their mark on the CrossFit Games competition. 21-year-old Mid Atlantic competitor, Ben Smith, took 3rd in the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games. Rich Froning Jr., the Fittest Man on Earth, is just 24. Smith, Froning, and Bergeron may not have reached their personal physical peak, but that doesn't mean they cannot make it to the top of the competition.
Bergeron works out of CrossFit Red Deer North with coach Jason MacDonald, a UFC mixed martial artist who originally lured Bergeron into his box for jujutsu training, but lost him to CrossFit. “They were holding CrossFit right beside us,” he says. “I saw them throwing a barbell around and got curious.”
Curiosity led to competition. He says he’s become super competitive, which comes from years of youth sports. “I played everything you could think of,” he says.
He has added additional weight training to his regular CrossFit workouts, focused more on nutrition and rest, and kept up with recreation league hockey for additional cardio and for fun.
But if Bergeron wants to get to the level of the likes of Froning, he knows he’s got his work cut out for him, starting with the Canada West Regional. “I’ve got time. Last year I was by far the youngest competitor there,” he says. “It was more of a learning experience, just being around some amazing athletes. This year, obviously I want to have fun and learn more, but I want to prove to everyone that I deserve to be there. The whole world can see you. It’s the proving ground.”
Bergeron believes he’s got what it takes. His team at CrossFit Red Deer North believes in his abilities, too. “They held a meeting the other day and kicked me off the team,” he laughs. “They want me to compete as in individual.”
His strategy for this year is based on the learning experience from last year, where he admits the impatience of youth may have worked against him. “Last year I tried to do every set unbroken and it just broke me down,” Bergeron says. “This year I’ve learned a lot more about my threshold and what my body can do. If I go over that, I’m gassed and usually done for the rest of the workout.”