|Camille Leblanc-Bazinet at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games at the StubHub Center in Los Angeles, California. (QMI Agency Files) |
CARSON, Calif. — Kicking butt in the gym, confidence and … Canadian winters.
Camille Leblanc-Bazinet says those were three keys to her spirited and inspiring victory at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.Follow @CanoeLifestyle
Finishing atop the women’s standings in the gruelling 13-event spectacle late last month at the StubHub Center (home of Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy), Leblanc-Bazinet earned $275,000 in prize money.
With the win, the University of Sherbrooke chemical engineering student also laid claim to the enviable title of “Fittest Woman on Earth.”
The CrossFit Games, which began in 2007, are dubbed as “the ultimate proving grounds of the fittest athletes on Earth.”
Based on the CrossFit strength and conditioning program that’s been trending worldwide in recent years, the Games test the elite fitness levels of athletes from around the globe through a wide range of physical exploits over five days.
It was Leblanc-Bazinet’s fifth trip to the big show, following a disappointing 16th-place finish last year and top-10 placings in 2010, ’11 and ’12.
This time, however, her mind was set on winning.
“This year, I believed I could win. I knew I had the ability for it. Knowing that and doing it, it’s two different things,” she admits at the post-Games press conference.
“I just wanted to come here and really hit every workout as hard as I could, just leaving everything on the floor.”
Indeed, she did.
Leblanc-Bazinet, a native of Richelieu, Que., now living in Montreal, is the first Canadian to win the CrossFit Games.
Fellow Montrealer Michele Letendre finished fourth this year.
“I think Canadian girls are tough because we have really rough winters,” offers Leblanc-Bazinet.
She might be on to something.
The newly crowned queen of CrossFit, whose background in gymnastics came in handy in some of the events, eclipsed two-time champion Annie Thorisdottir — who hails from Iceland. Third place went to Julie Foucher — who’s from Michigan.
Winter weather aside, Leblanc-Bazinet is arguably a pint-sized powerhouse at five-foot-two and 130 pounds.
And she’s only getting stronger.
Three years ago, her goal was to clean-and-jerk 185 pounds. Now it’s closer to 245.
While vowing to defend her title at the 2015 CrossFit Games, Leblanc-Bazinet reveals she’s also considering trying to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in weightlifting. Many naysayers might chalk up those aspirations to delusions of grandeur because she’s a “smaller girl.”
But the word “can’t” doesn’t seem to be in Leblanc-Bazinet’s vocabulary.
“For me, it’s always been, ‘OK, let me show you,’” she adds. “That’s my motivation.”
Dave Castro, CrossFit Games director and former Navy SEAL, is anticipating Leblanc-Bazinet’s win will further bolster CrossFit’s growth in Canada.
“I mean, look at her. How’s it not going to get attention in that country?” Castro asks rhetorically at the press conference. “How’s it not going to get attention globally?”
Leblanc-Bazinet, who trains up to six hours a day, invites any woman to follow in her footsteps because CrossFit “makes you look good and feel good about yourself.”
And she relishes the honour of being a role model for many young Canadian girls who would otherwise emulate “those skinny models out there.”
As far as Leblanc-Bazinet sees it, strong is the new sexy.
“We’re helping people to change the way we see women,” she explains. “Now women can be strong, confident and beautiful at the same time. I really hope they (Canadian girls) do look up to me so they can become the best at anything that they can be in their life.”
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