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Sydney Michalyshen

FKRM student muscles her way to CrossFit Games

June 24, 2021 — 

The CrossFit Games, an annual global athletic competition that seeks to crown “the fittest on earth,” will have a Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management connection when it takes place July 27 to Aug. 1 in Madison, WI. 

Second-year physical education student Sydney Michalyshen, 21, qualified for the sport’s marquee championship with a top-five finish at a qualifier event over the weekend of Saturday, June 19.

Michalyshen, a former Bisons women’s volleyball player, started training in the sport of CrossFit about three years ago.

“A friend told me she thought I would be really good at it, and that I should try it out during my off-season from volleyball,” she said.

CrossFit is a strength, conditioning, and overall fitness program consisting mainly of a mix of aerobic exercise, bodyweight exercises, and Olympic weightlifting. Competitions, including the CrossFit Games, feature events such as distance swims, obstacle courses, 1-rep-max-lifts, handstand walking sled pushes, rope climbs and odd-object carries.

Qualifying for the games is no easy task. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe compete in an opening qualifier round called the CrossFit Open. From there, various tournaments and qualifiers take place. Eventually, the field is whittled down to 40 men and 40 women who compete in the final stanza, the CrossFit Games.

For most, qualifying for the CrossFit Games is the definition of a pipe dream. Given the sheer number of entrants, and the elite quality of the athletes, it really is the best of the best who qualify.

The reigning four-time women’s CrossFit Games gold medallist, Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr, for example, represented Australia in the 2016 Summer Olympics in weightlifting and is also training for the Winter Olympics in bobsled.

Despite those unfavourable odds, Michalyshen isn’t shy to admit that earning a spot in Madison was a goal of hers early on.

“I’m a very competitive person. I didn’t think I would qualify so soon, but getting to the games was definitely a long-term goal that I set out with,” she said.

Because of the varied nature of the sport, CrossFit athletes need to prepare themselves for dozens of different movements, workouts and scenarios. Michalyshen trains six days a week, with two workouts a day Monday through Friday. She decided to engage in part-time studies this year to concentrate on her training.

While her sport is her primary focus currently, she’s eager to complete her degree and one day gain employment in the physical health and fitness realm.

“Earning my phys ed degree means a lot to me. Down the road once I’m done competing and being an athlete, I would love to be a phys ed teacher once the time is right,” she adds.

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