November 17, 2021
Podcast Ep. 015: The Evolution of Masters (35-65+) Athletes

“What the masters division has done for me … has gotten me excited about turning 40, turning 50, turning 60, and instead of saying, ‘Ugh, I’m this old,’ I’m like, ‘I am this old and look what I can do.’” —Chase Ingraham

The masters division is proof that competitive CrossFit is possible even as you age.

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In this episode, 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games athletes Annie Sakamoto, Women’s 45-49 division champion, and Nuno Costa, sixth-place finisher in the Men’s 40-44 division, join host Chase Ingraham to discuss the evolution of the masters division, and share their views on the changes to the 2022 season.

The road to the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games has a few extra stops for age-group athletes.

This year, the top 10 percent of age-group athletes from the Open will advance to Quarterfinals. From the Quarterfinals, the top 30 athletes from each age division will move on to Semifinals.

Different from 2021, the top 10 athletes from Semifinals in each age group will be invited to compete in Madison at the CrossFit Games.

While Sakamoto and Costa agree that the new structure provides extra opportunities for athletes to compete and showcase their abilities, they said they prefer a larger playing field of 20 competitors at the Games.

“The 20 to 10 I’m not a fan of,” Sakamoto said. “I think that only 10 competitors (at the Games) means that you start to see a locked-in-podium kind of finish too early on, but, I understand. … My guess would be it’s partly logistics. … it’s so many people and so, logistically, it’s really tough for CrossFit, and I don’t fault them if that is their reason.”

Sakamoto and Costa feel similarly about Dave Castro’s recent announcement of a possible age-group-only CrossFit Games in the future, as they both favor 2021’s format of competing a few days before the individuals and teams over having a standalone event.

“I feel like we’re more likely to have a few more spectators because there are people already there for the individuals,” Sakamoto said.

She continued, “I understand why some may prefer to have a separate event and why CrossFit may prefer that, again logistically, because they could really just focus on the masters and we wouldn’t feel or be like the sideshow. We would be the show.”

“If you’re going to make it separate,” Costa said, “make it maybe the weekend before (the individuals) … so it’s still in that same window.” Sakamoto and Costa reflect on their 2021 seasons as they juggled the responsibilities as working parents and competitive athletes. “Looking back, I’m still in awe that I made it, that I finished top 10,” Costa said.

“Mind you,” he continued, “I was balancing life, kids, traveling — you name it. And sometimes you don’t get to really appreciate what you’ve done until some time has passed.”

“To be able to achieve what I did this year and not sacrifice the things that are most valuable to me was a huge success,” Sakamoto added.

For masters athletes interested in getting back into the gym or into competitive CrossFit, Costa advised: “Don’t wait.”

“There’s never going to be a perfect time,” he said. “Get in the gym. No matter what, I think being around the CrossFit community is going to make you better physically, mentally, emotionally as a person.”

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