The definition of spirit is to keep pushing

Derek GoforthThe West Australian

What does it mean to have spirit?

I was fortunate enough over the weekend to participate in the ChasingBetter Throwdown CrossFit competition in Perth.

I was honoured to be named “spirit of the games” by the judges and organisers. It is a moment I will never forget.

But what is spirit? What does it mean to have it or to show it?

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According to CrossFit.com, when speaking about the same award but for the CrossFit Games, director of certification and training Nicole Carroll said: “The spirit of the games is an award that acknowledges not only what an athlete accomplishes but how they accomplish it.”

At the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games, Carroll said: “In searching for a winner each year, we ask questions like: who exhibits extraordinary character in a field of already extraordinary human beings? Who inspires and motivates us to live life, even in the face of the most extreme challenges, with a little more grace, a little more kindness, a little more resilience? It’s always an incredibly difficult choice.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy and honoured to be regarded by anyone as “an inspiration” or someone who motivates. But I couldn’t help but reflect on what inspired me through the slog of the weekend.

The competition featured several divisions, from beginners to masters to elite athletes. I saw “spirit” in every one. Like the 14-year-old girl competing and beating women much older and much more experienced. Struggling with some movements but sticking with it regardless of the result.

Or the beginners’ lady, who I assumed to be in her 30s and not in the athlete mould — but she gave it everything in every event, particularly when dealing with the toes to bar movement, which requires quite a high level of skill, flexibility and strength.

It was clear from the outset that she couldn’t quite pull it off, but instead of stepping away and quitting, she spent every second of the 10-minute time cap trying, trying and trying again, much to the delight of the roaring crowd.

But ultimately, the biggest inspiration and motivation I saw (other than my wife and boy shouting me on along with my Coach D) was from my fellow teammates, Courtney McLeod and Sarah Sly. I guess you have to do CrossFit and even do a competition to truly understand just how hard some of the events can be — if you give it your all. And that’s what Sarah and Courtney did; gave it everything they had, physically and mentally. Yes, it was a competition but ultimately it’s the competitor versus the bar, versus the assault bike, the rower, the barbell — it’s you trying to be a better version of your previous self. The only way we do that is to push, push and keep pushing until we know we have nothing left to give.

I am proud of my achievements but I am beaming with pride and admiration for our box (gym), CrossFit Geraldton, because Coach D and her staff encourage and nurture “spirit” at every turn.

Well done, Sarah and Courtney — you get the spirit award every workout I see you in.

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