The 7 Things I Learned From Judging A CrossFit Competition

judging crossfit

Those who can’t, judge… Or so the saying goes. Maybe you want to contribute to the community, or voluntary judging gets you a quicker route to competing next time – whichever you are, I highly recommend judging a CrossFit competition at least once, for everything you’ll learn along the way.

I took the CrossFit judges’ course in February so I could judge in the Open, then I recently judged at the Rainhill Trials – a competition I’ve competed in myself and will be competing in again – and since then I’ve been thinking of the lessons that judging has taught me, both from a judging and an athlete point of view.

Lessons one and two are specifically for judges; three and four for athletes. The final three are for how judges and athletes can work smoothly together, but I recommend you read all for a holistic view for your next competition, whether you’re competing or judging!

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SPORT: This Girl On The Radio

By now you will have heard of the This Girl Can campaign – going into its second season, it’s everywhere from TV to viral on social media. The ad came as a reaction to the difference of two million more men than women playing sport, and also from research by Women in Sport which found out teenage girls avoid sport and PE as they felt getting sweaty, messy and dirty was unfeminine, and they also felt that boys got more encouragement to participate in sport.

This Girl Can addresses those barriers by showing real women being active and loving it, whether they’re sweaty, jiggling, or red-faced. You can now be part of the campaign yourself by creating your own This Girl Can ad, like mine, above. I was recently a part of a radio documentary exploring why teenage girls try to get out of PE and sport. You can hear me lisp my way through the last couple of minutes of the show, talking about my experiences of sport in school, and the advice I’d give to my own fourteen-year-old self.

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SPORT: Greater Manchester Awards

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The voluntary sector in sport is the biggest by number of people, the most depended on, yet it is the sector that receives the least recognition. Without volunteers grassroots sport – that’s Sunday leagues, athletics clubs, children’s coaches, the lot – would not exist. And where do you think elite sport participants would come from without grassroots?! So we have an awful lot to thank the ordinary people who give up their spare time to run clubs and coach others.

The Greater Manchester Sports Awards exists to honour these everyday heroes, and I had the pleasure of going along with my friend from run club, Anthony, to sit on the Xtra Mile Events and MLP Law table. Xtra Mile are the organisers of the Manchester Marathon with MLP sponsoring the Corporate Challenge, so it was quite humbling to be sat with the gang who are basically driving my running over the next five months!

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One of my favourite moments of the night was when Leigh Genesis Football Club won Club of the Year, and a group of coaches – including a female coach – went up on stage to collect the award. The presenter discussed the teams they look after with the male coaches, before turning to the female coach. “I guess this includes women’s teams as well?” “Yeah”, she said. “But I only coach boys’ teams”. I couldn’t help but laugh – it is easy to fall into stereotypes when talking sport, even when you’re involved in it, as it is so frequently viewed as masculine. Charity organisers of the awards GreaterSport are working to stamp out discrimination – whether that’s age, sex, race, whatever – from grassroots upwards.

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For me the most inspiring win was Sports Achiever of the Year, Jess Taylor. I always resonate with those most like me – Jess is around my age but the things she has achieved are absolutely phenomenal. This girl not only got a bronze medal in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games – she is ranked third in the UK heptathlon rankings and fifteenth in the ALL-TIME UK heptathlete rank. AND she has a Masters degree in Architecture! Her next goals are to compete in the Beijing 2015 World Championships and at the Rio 2016 Olympics. With this career trajectory I have no doubt she achieve everything she sets her mind to.

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Iwan Thomas MBE was guest speaker, and his story of the journey to the 1998 Budapest European Championships was one part moving to two parts hilarious. It must be tough to be a teenage professional athlete; to have so much expected of you yet still be going through the teenage tantrums that were bad enough without gold medals being on the line. There’s a documentary coming out about Iwan’s relationship with his coach Mike Smith that looks worth a watch for anyone interested in running, or even just self-development.

One thing I’ll keep with me from Iwan’s talk is to believe in yourself, trust in yourself and work hard. You can’t really go wrong if you follow that advice.

All in all, a brilliant night: I got to wear a cocktail dress, get my photo taken with Iwan (though I don’t think the lighting does much for either of us, sorry pal!) and go home with a fuzzy feeling of community and humanity in my tum. Or maybe that was just the wine. Either way, it’s certainly reminded me to thank the marshals next time I’m at a run, for without them there would be no run.

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SPORT: Changing the Game for Girls

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Last Thursday at the MCWFC game against Notts County Ladies the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation announced its partnership with the Manchester club, entitled Changing the Game for Girls: In Action. MCWFC will use the WSFF’s thirty years’ experience to work more effectively with females to provide a lasting impact on sport. As a female looking to work in sport in the very near future, for me this is a very important collaboration, so I went along to the match to help raise awareness and chat to matchgoers about the partnership.

Most of the girls I spoke to were excited at the prospect of being professional footballers in the future; they looked blankly at me when I said that in my day that just wasn’t an option. They probably thought I was a million years old but it’s true! You would have been laughed out of school for saying that you wanted to work in football, or cricket, or in any sport that wasn’t ballet or equestrianism.

The shift is thanks in part to organisations like the WSFF who are educating and empowering women and girls, enabling them to get involved in sport. So far the coverage of the Commonwealth Games has also been strengthening the position of females in sport; I knew it was on but it was still a pleasant surprise to see the netball on the BBC yesterday (like, they actually covered a full match and not just highlights!), and so far women have won the majority of England’s medals. I’m most excited to watch Zoe Smith and the incredible 15-year-old Rebekah Tiler compete in the weightlifting, traditionally seen as a masculine event but now dominated by female personalities.

Chris and I made a pledge, as you can see above – his idea! – so from now on I pledge never to be worried about going into the weights room. Your choice of sport should not be affected by gender stereotypes, whether that be water polo or weightlifting; the same goes for your choice of career.

And if you still say that football isn’t for girls, I challenge you to take on City Women’s. They’ll certainly teach you a thing or two about kicking a ball.

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ITV Fever Pitch | World Cup 2014

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Embarrassing story time: four years ago, when Spain won the World Cup, my boyfriend and I were in a small, ex-pat town in Spain. We were staying with his parents and we’d just arrived that day, so after watching the celebratory fireworks on the roof we decided to go to bed but hit the town to party the next night.

Big mistake. Nobody was around. We asked why: the answer was because they’d had the biggest party EVER the night before, with most bars only closing at 9am. Yes, even in a sleepy little ex-pat town.

There’s only two ways to handle the World Cup. One is to spend the entire six weeks complaining about the amount of football on TV, hating every second and making yourself miserable; the other is to embrace it and enjoy it thoroughly (ignoring it isn’t an option. It’s impossible). After missing out on what could have been the greatest celebration of my life last time I’ve plumped for the latter option – besides, I don’t fancy being miserable for that amount of time! The fact it’s in Brazil is an attractive factor for me, too. My dad worked in Brazil for a year when I was thirteen, and my mum and I travelled out to visit him; so seeing Sugarloaf Mountain, Maracana Stadium and Ipanema beach all over the TV is very nostalgic for me.

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Last night I went to ITV’s Fever Pitch, which is a re-purposing of the old Granada Studios in Manchester. The weather wasn’t the best but it was a fun experience – I almost (almost) felt like I was on holiday night out with the beach, beer and burgers… Obviously two beers down I just had to try out my handstand on the sand. We watched the Algeria v Russia game with a big group of Algerians and their enthusiasm was amazing – our group adopted Algeria for the night, so it was fantastic that they got through to the finals.

There’s another three weeks left of the World Cup, and whether you groan or cheer at that statement, remember life is what you make of it. You can make yourself miserable or happy with your mindset. I know which one I’d rather be!

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