Anna Tunnicliffe is a three-times Games competitor. In case that isn’t impressive enough, she’s also an Olympic Gold medalist and took second place in the Atlantic Regional this year. So, basically, she’s about as cool as they come.
Tunnicliffe is a British transplant living in the Midwest and is a world-renowned for her sailing career, which she retired from in 2014. She was introduced to CrossFit as a supplemental training when preparing for the Olympics in 2012 and has been hooked ever since.
We caught up with Anna to discuss her preparation for her fourth trip the 2016 CrossFit Games.
FHQ: Okay, so you’re known first and foremost as an Olympic sailor and you have a gold medal to prove it. Explain how you went from sailing to CrossFit.
Anna Tunnicliffe: I got introduced to CrossFit during my training for the 2012 Olympics. We were training in Chicago and staying with the current owners of CrossFit E-Town. They said, come and check out this gym we go to and I instantly fell in love with the training style. When we got back to Miami for our next training session, I happened to stop in to CrossFit Gables, where I met my coach and now fiancé. I mentioned that I would like to compete and he said lets get through the Olympics safely and then we can focus on training for CF a little more intensely. We set a goal to train for the 2013 Games as an outside shot and the actual goal of the 2014 Games, but as things worked out, we qualified for the 2013 Games and so it all began.
FHQ: Do you find that there’s any crossover between the two sports?
Anna Tunnicliffe: The amount of time training is very similar. Obviously they are two very different sports. Sailing is a very mental game, as in trying to outsmart your competitors. CrossFit is very physical, but both require you to be consistent across the board and both are longer events.
FHQ: This will be your fourth appearance in Carson, but during Regionals there was a point where your trip back wasn’t a sure thing. Explain what that felt like and your strategy for battling your way back into second place.
Anna Tunnicliffe: This year I really enjoyed Regionals. I knew that day one for me was a minimize damage sort of day as the WODs weren’t really in my favor. I made game plans with my coach Brad and we stuck to them. In the past couple of years, I have felt pressure during the Regionals and this year, I just went in to have fun and see where I ended up. I was more than happy to have come away with 2nd place.
FHQ: Last year, you did really well in the sandbag event, which was one a lot of people struggled with. What are you hoping to see this year?
Anna Tunnicliffe: HAHA!! Yes I would love to, but I’m happy to see what surprises Dave throws at us. I really enjoy the odd object events.
FHQ: On the other hand, are there any movements you’re really hoping not to see?
Anna Tunnicliffe: I don’t mind. I know that some movements are not my strengths, but that’s part of the sport. You have to be as good as you can be at everything. Somethings I’ll do well at, and some I will struggle, and in the events with my weaknesses, it’s all about minimizing the damage and excelling where your strengths are.
FHQ: What are you doing differently this year to get ready for the Games as compared to year’s past?
Anna Tunnicliffe: I would say my training volume heading into this year is quite a bit greater. We trained hard last year and I felt ready for the games, but I got a bit beat up after Murph, as did a lot of people. This year, we are pushing hard so that we can be as prepared as possible.
FHQ: Are you friends with any of the other women you compete with at Regionals or at the Games or do you guys keep things pretty professional?
Anna Tunnicliffe: Everyone is super friendly for the most part. We have our game faces when we need them, but then off the field, we joke and hang out. Its a great community to be a part of.
FHQ: You’re obviously a mentally tough athlete — you hurt yourself in 2014 and competed through an injury and I noticed on your Instagram that you hurt yourself just a few weeks before Regionals as well. What’s your strategy for keeping your cool despite adversity?
Anna Tunnicliffe: I’ve had a bit of bad luck with my right foot…haha. I love what I do and if I’m not going to hurt myself farther, I’ll keep going. We trained smart around my sprain about six weeks before Regionals. It wasn’t pretty and I’m not going to lie, I was a bit worried, but Brad did a great job of changing the training around so that I could keep going and training hard while at the same time letting my foot get better.
FHQ: I know your parents do CrossFit as well — do you guys ever get to workout together? What’s that like?
Anna Tunnicliffe: We usually all do the same workouts, and I make it my goal to not let them beat me. We get especially competitive during the Opens. They usually do the WODs a couple of hours before me so I know their score. But they crush them, so my goal is always to try and beat their scores…sometimes its very close.