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CrossFit® / August 2019
Brittany Burke, Global Content

Annie Thorisdottir Reflects On Ten Years Competing In The CrossFit Games

The highs and the lows have all lead her to be the force she is today.

If you ask Annie Thorisdottir to reflect on the things that have changed in her decade-long career competing at the CrossFit Games, one thing stands out: the competition has only gotten more fierce. “The athletes get better and better each year, and you want to make sure that you stay with or ahead of the curve,” she says.
 
And to keep up, Thorisdottir is pushing herself harder than ever. “I feel like I can still run faster, get stronger, and tweak my technique and skill set,” she says. “That’s what makes the sport so exciting for me. You need to constantly push.”
 
As for what she’s enjoyed over the last ten years, there’s one obvious answer: “The highlight is winning the CrossFit Games, getting the title of Fittest On Earth is amazing. Then doing it again was huge for me,” she says.
 
And while being proud of her accomplishment was one thing, what she loved the most was seeing how her victory affected her community. “After I won the CrossFit Games in 2011, I wasn’t expecting how much it would affect Icelandic society. It was such a cool experience. I got recognized and acknowledged as a professional athlete. So many people started doing CrossFit because of that.”
 
Even some of her setbacks have been influential to her overall journey. “I couldn’t compete in 2013 due to a back injury, and it really made me realize how much I love exercising and competing,” she says. “After I won in 2011 and again in 2012, I didn’t know what my next goal should be. Getting injured and realizing I might not be able to compete again made me realize how much I wanted that to compete again.”
 
That made her comeback in 2014 an even more special moment. “One of my biggest highlights is 2014, even though I got second place that year,” she says. “It was one of the most fun years I’ve had at the Games because I had been injured before, and I never knew if I would be back there. And not only did I make it back, but I was still me. I got confidence in myself and my body again.”
 
But even being perfectly healthy and well trained can’t prevent the unexpected from happening when it comes to the CrossFit Games “In 2015 at the CrossFit Games I got heatstroke and ended up having to withdraw,” says Thorisdottir. “ I’ve always believed that it’s going to be your mind that gives up before your body. But that year, it was all out of my control. I’ve always said I’ll never quit, and having to withdraw from that was really hard for me mentally, and coming back from that, I was terrified by the heat.”
 
That fear dominated her 2016 competition, and even though she looks back and knows that physically she was ready to compete, she still wasn’t feeling confident in how she would bounce back from the year before. “As a competitor, one of the hardest things is to walk off the floor knowing you could have done better,” she says. “2016 was the hardest year mentally for me because I was in such good shape, but I just didn’t have my head in the game.” That matters, she says, because at the top of the field, the competition is tight in strength and physicality, and the way you have to set yourself apart is through your mental toughness.
 
“People are realizing more and more over the years how important the mental game is, and I’ve been working on that a lot,” she says. “I’ve had to work on getting over my fear of the heat, having confidence going into a workout. It’s still something I’m working on, and it’s never going to be perfect.”
 
To try to stay focused and present, she focuses on one rep, and one workout at a time. “I owe it to myself to let myself do as well as possible. It’s out of my control where anyone else is. As soon as I get out on the floor of course I feel nerves and butterflies, but that’s good—that’s my body getting ready for competition,” she says. “And I try not to think about what’s next. It’s just the one event, the one workout, the one rep at a time. You’re going to finish this workout, it’s going to hurt, but it’s temporary and I know I’m going to survive. And I’m going to feel significantly better knowing I did everything I could walking off the floor.”
 
In 2017, Thorisdottir came back better than ever. “There were so many people who thought I was done. Getting third place in 2017 was my way of saying, ‘Annie’s not done,’” she says.
 
“And believe me, I’m not done yet. I can still continue to get better, and I am constantly getting better. This is going to be the best version of me yet, and I’m excited to see where it takes us.”
 
To see more about the CrossFit Games, click here.
CrossFit® / August 2019
Brittany Burke, Global Content