Joe Scali, who competed in his first CrossFit Games last week, has every reason to complain about his experience in Carson. He tore his bicep tendon during Murph and was eventually forced to withdraw from the competition.
On Saturday evening, friends, family and supporters of Joe were heartbroken to watch him shake Dave Castro's hand as he withdrew from the competition, unable to even lift a barbell overhead before the clean and jerk event.
While Scali admitted pulling out was devastating, he’s angered by recent articles he has read about this year’s events.
“A lot of people posted negative things about the (Games events) this year, but I think it was awesome. I was thinking, ‘This is what I’m here for. This is sport,’” Scali said. “I loved the workouts. They were extremely challenging and they humbled me.”
Scali knows he’s not alone in his thinking. He thinks many people sit around critiquing blindly and don’t realize the athletes were served just what they wanted.
“I think any athlete there will have the same opinion as me. We want it to be difficult. That’s why we compete. The athletes there are the fittest people in the world. This is what we do for a living. And it’s getting harder every year because people are getting better and better,” he said.
Scali made the most of his day and a half of competition, appreciating every moment like this one, getting briefed before the start of the swim/paddleboard event alongside the athletes to whom he has looked up for years.
Scali added: “This is what we signed up for. We wanted to do this. Had we known the programming beforehand, every single person would have said, “I want to do that.’”
As for his injury, he believes it simply shows he had a weakness, one he wants to fix before next year.
“I’ve always had problems with my shoulders, even as a hockey player,” Scali said. “I think I could have done a lot of things to prevent (the injury at the Games). I could have warmed up more, and I could have done more mobility and prep work.”
It was a tough decision to pull the shoot on Saturday evening, but he knew it was the smart choice to avoid further damage.
“I couldn’t even wash my hair. And I don’t even have hair,” he laughed. “But seriously, I couldn’t lift anything overhead.”
Injury aside, Scali said his Games experience was still incredible.
Although Joe was initially disappointed about his withdrawal, he's already planning for a trip back to the Games in 2016.
“I would say this is the top one coolest things of my athletic career,” he said. “It was amazing to be part of it. I was almost star struck when I got there. Competing with guys I look up to like Scott Panchik and Ben Smith. I was like, ‘Holy shit, I can’t believe I’m actually competing with these guys.’”
Since returning home to White Rock, B.C., Scali has taken a few days off training, but isn’t planning on wasting much time. He’ll focus on his legs while his injury heals, and is already thinking about next year.
“I want to get back to the Games even more than I did before,” he said, adding what he loves most about the CrossFit Games is its uniqueness.
“Our sport is so different than any other sport. The peg board is an awesome example. Every year there is one workout that lots of people struggle with—like the legless rope climbs (in 2013). But the cool thing is, next year—if they bring out the peg board again—everyone will fly up,” he said.
Remember in 2013 when only two of the ten fittest women in the world completed "Legless?"
Conquering new challenges is part of the sport Scali embraces most.
“I really like that they throw in these curve balls. As an athlete you’re stuck staring at a piece of equipment going, “When is the time cap?’ Scali laughed. It humbles you, and forces you to avoid having any “holes in your game,” he explained.
He paused and added: “It challenges you to learn everything.”
Although many of the men and women couldn't make even one trip up the peg board, Joe and many other athletes accept that new challenges like these are some of the best parts of the Games experience.
A range of articles have been written in response to the 2015 CrossFit Games: