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The (lucky) 13 badass women to watch during the 2018 CrossFit Games


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Photo: Getty Images/ svetikd

CrossFit has achieved an appeal almost as mythical as unicorn lattes. Even wellness-minded celebs like Cameron Diaz, Channing Tatum, and Jessica Biel have given the functional workout a whirl.

But regardless of whether you’re a CrossFitter or not, anyone can appreciate the Reebok CrossFit Games, which is “the sport of fitness'” biggest annual competition. It includes all sorts of physical feats, from swimming to Olympic weightlifting to more unique challenges like hay barrel dodging and sledgehammer (yes, it’s a verb, go with it). You can download an app and follow along as athletes compete for the title of Fittest On Earth, plus the $300,000 prize purse that goes with it.

The five-day sporting event starts August 1 in Madison, Wisconsin, and so you don’t get confused and think that someone named Angie or Fran is favored to win, I’ve put together a list of 13 badass women you should look out for at the 2018 CrossFit Games. Keep scrolling to learn enough about each of them to talk about something other than how sore you are next time you head to a box.

Becca Voigt

Becca Voigt’s streak for CrossFit Games qualifications ranks among the young sport’s most-stunning achievements—more stunning even than these summer travel destinations. (CrossFit fact: Rich Froning’s back-to-back-to-back-to-back Games Wins is first on that list). Voigt is headed to her 10th appearance as the oldest individual competitor on the field. While we wish age didn’t have to be such a notable factor when it comes to the Games, the veteran deserves credit for it. At 37, she’ll be competing against athletes like Lauren Fisher and Brooke Wells, who are over 15 years younger, though you wouldn’t know it looking at her (spoiler alert: she can do more than 30 pull-ups unbroken).

M O O D | #LifeIsGood | 🙃

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Kels Kiel

This 26-year-old, Philadelphia native brings body positivity and her contagious energy to the world of functional fitness. If you haven’t heard of her, you can check out her gallery at @kelsiel where she reps an insane headband and sports bra collection, sometimes unicorn-purple hair, and constant superhuman strength. She snatches 205, squats 360, and embodies “badass CrossFit babe with a focus on wellness.” This year you’ll get to see her back in the big leagues with team Invictus Boston. While many Regional and Games athletes have gathered a following as the sport of CrossFit has continued to take off, Kiel is one of the few who uses her voice to empower. With her, you’ll find more than WOD’s and open scores—she’s a woman who’s energy inspires, realness motivates, and positivity radiates.

Chloe Gauvin-David

This four-time regional qualifier—who’s on her way for to her first CrossFit Games—isn’t just a competitor. She embody’s the ethos of CrossFit: community.  Unlike her animal-inspired nickname, The Zebra, which are known for being aggressive with self-confidence and swagger (yes, really), Chloe is poised, humble, and a fountain of good energy. If you didn’t watch the 2018 East Regionals, here’s what you missed: Gauvin-David cheering on her competitors after she finished the event Every. Damn. Time. CrossFit watchers (*raises hand*) will remember the look on her face when it was announced she’d be going to the games.

Samantha Briggs

As far as endurance athletes go in this sport, Samantha Briggs is tops. (Seriously, at the 2016 Games, she finished Murph, CrossFit’s most notoriously brutal workout, second overall…yep, that’s factoring in  both the women and the men’s times). Her nickname’s “The Engine” (duh), and she’s CrossFit royalty in her native United Kingdom. Briggs was set to compete stateside in Regionals this year but a nasty elbow injury kept her from the competition floor in May, so she won’t be participating in the individual events. But her tenacious athletic skills will be on display during the Masters Division, CrossFit’s competition for people aged 35+.

Ehea Schuerch

Less than two years after starting her CrossFit Journey, Ehea placed third at this year’s West Regionals. Her relative lack of CrossFit experience is likely why most (even-avid) fans of the sport haven’t heard of this rookie, but it’s her humble-demeanor, infectious laugh, and ability to put her head down and work that’ll have you following along with this “Ordinary Human,” as she calls herself.

Tia-Clair Toomey

Toomey was named The Fittest Woman On Earth at the 2017 CrossFit Games (in what was the most narrow victory in its history) after being a two-time runner-up. It was a moment that gave most spectators (this one included) all the feels.  The sport is a seriously passionate side hustle for the Olympic weightlifter—she’s the only athlete to have ever competed in both elite sporting events in the same year. Talk about bad ass.

Kara (Webb) Saunders

And if you’re going to watch Toomey, watching famed Aussie Kara Saunders (formerly, Kara Webb) is inevitable. It’s a competition-floor rivalry that’s more riveting than Taylor vs. Kanye (and far less hostile). At the 2017 Games, Toomey only edged Saunders out of first place by two points during a dramatic day of head-to-head competition (seriously, I chewed my nails to nubs). And if the 2018 CrossFit Pacific Regionals are any indication, that on-the-edge-of-your-seats competition hasn’t subsided; Toomey may have taken first  overall, but out of the six total regional events Saunders took home a win on events four and five (and came in second to Toomey on events two and six).

Brooke Wells

Even if you don’t *follow* CrossFit, you’ve probably seen Brooke Wells on your social feeds. The Cellucor athlete has over 800K followers on Instagram alone and for good reason: Not only does she *slay* WODs, she’s was an undergrad at the Univesity of Missouri until graduating this past May. Studying business, back squatting 345 pounds, and coaching at CrossFit Fringe….talk about redefining the phrase “student-athlete.”

Emily Bridgers

Emily is a CrossFit OG, but after her appearance at the CrossFit Games this year, she’ll be retiring. She’s eight years into her CrossFit career, but the former gymnast wasn’t always a functional fitness star and that’s part of why she’s fangirl worthy. She once took to Instagram to say, “[CrossFit] is for anyone who thinks they can’t change their life… it didn’t happen overnight. There was no magic pill. It took consistency and hard work. Lots of constantly varied, functional movement done at high intensity. Gradually building muscle over time.” Catch her in action taking on whatever Dave Castro throws at this year’s Games athletes before she leaves her shoes (er, lifters) on the competition floor for the last time.

Brenda Castro

Brenda Castro has held the Fittest Woman in Mexico title since 2014, but she didn’t grab most people’s attention until she went head-to-head against Brooke Wells during the 17.4 CrossFit Open Announcement in 2017… and won! Castro (unrelated to Dave Castro, CrossFit HQ’s man behind the CrossFit Games) is headed back to the Games, but the road getting there had some (ahem) roadblocks. ICYDK, the 2018 Latin America CrossFit Regionals almost didn’t happen after a truck strike, which kept most of the equipment from being delivered to the competition floor. Luckily, the CrossFit Brazil community, plus local boxes and gyms, banded together to contribute replacements for the missing goods. Yep, that just about sums up CrossFit. And the community that delivered all that equipment? You can bet they’ll be cheering on their CrossFit star.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet

If you’ve ever watched her IG stories, you’ve probably already fallen in love with this Canadian athlete. She’s a total goofball, she practices what she preaches—plus, she and her CrossFitting hubby Dave Freak Lipson are totally couple goals (seriously, they hold the world record for the most amount of tandem push-up in a row for a male/female pair). The 2014 Fittest Women on Earth is returning to the Games this year after she had to withdraw from the  2017 competition due to a shoulder injury. “Coming back from a shoulder surgery was nothing short of an enormous amount of work and faith! I am so excited to go back to Madison for my ninth year in a row!!!,” she wrote on IG. Another reason to love this CrossFit vet? She’s also very vocal about promoting a positive body image of strong women. Bicep confidence? Here for it.

Sara Sigmundsdottir

When it comes to the queens of functional fitness, the women of Iceland reign supreme. Annie Thorisdottir, Sara Sigmundsdottir, and Katrin Davidsdottir have all become household names (or at least faces you’re bound to see plastered at your local Reebok store).Thorisdottir’s a CrossFit OG. Davidsdottir took home The Fittest Woman On Earth title in both 2015 and 2016. But Sigmundsdottir is the one to watch this year. The latest CrossFit Games hype video, The Redeemed and The Dominant, showed that the dedicated athlete is as silly as she is strong, as humble as she is focused, and as friendly as she is a fierce competitor.

Jamie Greene

People come to CrossFit from all sorts of athletic backgrounds: gymnastics, swimming, track & field, to name a few. But Greene? Her background is rugby. Yep, the sports that’s basically football without protection. No surprise then that she’s all about competitive edge. In 2016 she won the CrossFit Open, going on to compete at the Games with Team CrossFit Yas, and in 2017, she came in eighth place overall. BTW, if her abs look familiar it’s because in March she teamed up with Sara Shakeel (the artist who Photoshopped glitter stripes onto her stretch marks) to get her six-pack bedazzled. Rugby-player, CrossFit athlete, body positivity advocate? Green’s already a winner in our book.

CrossFit newbie? Here’s what you need to know. And consider this your official CrossFit dictionary

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