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Canmore athlete claims top spot at CrossFit Games

"It’s still just kind of sinking in."

WISCONSIN, USA – Modest and humble of her accomplishment, Kim Purdy won’t be the one to say it, but she just crushed the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games.

At the biggest CrossFit event of the year, the Canmore competitor put on a dream performance and took the crown of top 50-54 woman and was given the title of one of the fittest athletes on the planet.

“Winning was never on my radar,” said Purdy, 50. “It was kind of surreal. It’s still just kind of sinking in. I don’t think I actually fully appreciated that I came first – I still don’t. It was more just to experience the competition and just trying to take it all in.”

After years of trying to get there, the CrossFit Games rookie caught fire early in the competition and held a lead that couldn’t be overturned by the final day.

Purdy put her abilities on display from Aug. 4-6 in Madison, Wisconsin, where a demanding eight-event competition tested the heart and toughness of contenders.

“For me, it’s my fun,” she said. “It is hard work, but it is what I enjoy.”

Starting a decade ago at CrossFit Canmore, Purdy quickly fell in love with the sport. In just a few short years, she rose to the top of Canada’s rankings in her age category.

“Nothing happens overnight,” said Travis Mann, Purdy’s coach. “It came as a result of tons and tons of hard work. To me, it was inevitable that you [Purdy] were going to get there.”

With a goal to train five days a week and put in one to three hours of training per session, Purdy qualified as one of 10 women worldwide in the 50-54 category after a “gruelling” process to reach the Games, chasing the likes of USA's Tea Gebbie and Cheryl Borst.

But on day one of the Games, the Canmore CrossFitter made her presence felt among the big guns in a major way. She finished first in Three Ways Down – one of the three competitions that day.

Purdy and Gebbie, who won second overall, were toe-to-toe in the final moments of the event that features running, rope climbing and dumbbell to shoulder and overheads. However, the Canmore athlete did what Canmore athletes do best and captured top spot in a photo finish.

Everything changed from that point on for the Canmore athlete.

“It definitely helped having [a great result] early on in the competition,” said Purdy. “It wasn’t like I had a last place finish and I was trying to crawl out.”

“I noticed a mood shift, mentally, after that [first place] and she was able to exhale,” Mann added.

Second place in standings after day one, Purdy's momentum carried into a dominant day two. Purdy won first and 100 points in the Parallel Elizabeth and took second in the Mixed Mode Madness.

And just like that, Purdy found herself at the top of the standings and a whole new challenge popped up. All of the sudden the chaser had become the chased.

“The stress changed,” she said. “The stress from the beginning of the competition was like just do your best and try not to face plant and then it was like now’s there’s this expectation that if I somehow drop now somehow I’ll fail, even though I’m not.”

Up only 20 points at the start of day three, it wasn’t wide enough of a margin for Purdy to sit back and put her feet up with three competitions left ­– including in one of her weaker workouts.

How Purdy would approach the final day was something she and coach Mann “discussed a lot.”

“One of her biggest strengths, for sure, is her ability to strategize and plan, so there was a little bit of uncertainty,” said Mann.

“There were so many distractions with all the stuff going on and just take care of the things you needed to take care of and block of the distractions.”

The third day started out with a bang though, as Purdy secured a huge 90 points and second place in the Carrying Karen competition. She then took fourth place in the Rinse and Repeat.

With only one competition remaining – the Final Sprint – Purdy avoided the temptations of looking at the giant leader board screen to see where she stood.

For everyone else, they saw she held a 70-point lead and needed a mid-pack finish to secure the title.

“I tried to do one workout at a time … Otherwise you’re focusing on the wrong thing,” said Purdy. “I definitely felt the pressure.”

Purdy hustled to fourth place in the Final Sprint. It was good enough for the victory, but it didn’t stop Mann – and all the other coaches – from frantically refreshing the standings page on their cellphones to see the final tally.

Purdy finished with 650 points, Gebbie was second place with 600 points, and USA's Marcie Wells was third.

“Even though I ended up placing first [overall], I wasn’t happy with my final workout,” said Purdy. “I had a hard time letting it go and then I was just like ‘oh my god, it’s a workout, it’s CrossFit, who cares?’”

Despite the impressive win, she doesn’t consider herself the best in the sport and praised her competitors – as well as her team – for a heroic effort.

Viewing CrossFit as a big community, Purdy felt lucky during the entire process to have her parents, friends, and coach all in Madison and contributing in some way to her victory.

“I love it. I love the process. I just love everything about CrossFit,” said Purdy.

“I think I’ll keep at it and see what happens. My goal was never to win; my goal was to get to the Games.”

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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