News: Competition heats up in Kandahar
Story by Spc. Rochelle Krueger
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Dirt, sweat and determination brewed within the confines of a Crossfit gymnasium at Kandahar Airfield, and Afghanistan’s rising temperatures helped heat up the competition. Putting their speed and strength to the test, deployed soldiers vied for the title ‘Fittest Provider,’ at a 3rd Sustainment Brigade-sponsored fitness event, May 18.
“Competitions with both speed and strength balance out for athletes who have polarized capabilities,” said Capt. Laura Fonseca, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, and participant in the ‘Fittest Provider’ event. “A well balanced Crossfit workout will have the two athletes neck-and-neck, with seconds to decide the winner.”
Soldiers with the 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), 39th Joint Movement Control Battalion and the 3rd Sustainment Brigade tested their grit in both individual and team-level CrossFit competitions. Each team consisted of two males and two females who challenged their competitors to intense workouts while racing against the clock.
First Lt. Ben Gibbs, assigned to the 261st Movement Control Team, 39th JMCB, partnered with Fonseca and fellow coworkers, 1st Lt. Luke Swenson and Sgt. Melesha Witter, to take first place out of the seven teams who competed. Gibbs also prevailed in the individual segment, and won after completing his workout five minutes ahead of his opponents. The Hickory, N.C., native said that although he finished first, the greatest feat was being able to participate in an event with his peers.
“It is always good to do competitions because it builds unit cohesion and camaraderie, especially while deployed,” he said.
Gibbs’ teammate, Witter, a Bronx, N.Y., native also took first in the individual female category, with Fonseca finishing close behind.
Certified CrossFit judges were on hand to ensure the competition was conducted safely and correctly.
“The toughest part of Crossfit is safety,” said Sgt. Ryan Haynes, ‘Fittest Provider’ judge and member of HHC, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, “especially when adding the element of competition. I was mainly there to ensure the repetition counted and they were doing the exercise properly.”
Haynes said this was especially important as some competitors have never performed a CrossFit workout before.
“I had to do some moves that I’ve never done before because I do the normal gym workouts, working one muscle group at a time,” said Spc. Alex Alvarez, with the 311th ESC. “I was nervous when we started but now I’m motivated to continue with Crossfit because of the good workout I got out of it.”
Fonseca, an avid CrossFit competitor, said the workout also helps with self-improvement.
“Our bodies are our livelihood, if you are not physically fit, your ability to be a Soldier is diminished,” she said. “Continuously partaking in Crossfit allows me to serve at my maximum capabilities.”