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Fit for life - Former Jamaican Olympian continues competitive thirst through CrossFit

Published:Friday | August 9, 2019 | 12:14 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer

The competitive nature of Sion Brinn has not left him since he retired from swimming long ago. He just found a new avenue in which to continue to keep the flag flying for Jamaica.

The former Jamaican Olympian competed in his 2019 CrossFit Games held in Madison, Wisconsin, recently. It is a competition consisting of a collection of weight lighting and aerobic workouts, including surprise events, in order to determine “the fittest persons on Earth”. Brinn’s involvement in the games and in the sport for the last five years has just been the natural step in this phase of his sporting life.

“Ever since I was a kid, I was always active and into sports through my swimming years, and even when I retired, fitness was always still a big part of my life,” he reflected.

“And I kept doing it and I enjoyed doing the whole gym thing and I joined a cross-fit gym (Be Cross fit) about five or six years ago. But I wasn’t necessarily a novice. I had an understanding of how it all worked and just kind of started following the structure of how it worked and then this open, cross-fit open thing kind of hit me and I decided to try it out and I did. And every year, I have been getting better and better.”

Inclusive Sport

The 46-year-old complements the sport’s inclusiveness with athletes of all ages competing.

“It’s very inclusive of all ages. Even though you might be training and working out with guys half your age, you have the ability if you choose to compete with people of your own age. So it is very inclusive. It’s a fun, active sport to get involved in,” Brinn added.

Brinn qualified from the open preliminaries to the main games in March as Jamaica’s national champion as the 2019 edition was restructured to include the best from each country of birth participating.

The former Campion College and Louisiana State University alumni is no stranger to the sporting life. He has represented Jamaica and Great Britain in the pool for many years, holding the Jamaican record in the 100m freestyle and World and European Short Course championship medals for Great Britain.

These days, he is moulding the next generation of swimmers in the United States, where he has called home for the past 19 years with his recent appointment being head coach of Indian River State College swimming and diving in Florida. Juggling those responsibilities plus raising a family of his own has led to Brinn making the most of every session in the gym.

“This is a fun time for me,” said Brinn. “I wouldn’t say this is my only focus in life. Working out and trying to keep fit, you are allocated an hour or two a day, when time permits, four or five times a week so you just continue with that. So in terms of preparation [there was] nothing out of the ordinary except making sure that you are more consistent knowing that you have a big event coming up,” he said.

There were no medals to chase for him this time or records. It was just for him to do the best job he could and to represent himself, his family, and Jamaica well.

“On a personal level, I just wanted to do well for myself. I wanted to represent myself, my family, my gym, and my country as best as I could. I do believe that I achieved that. The experience [has] motivated me to say ‘All right, I want to try this again’,” said Brinn.

The experience has certainly whetted his appetite for more as he looks to get even better for next year.

“This was definitely something that I enjoyed and I want to experience (it) again. My goal for the future would be to continue what I am doing, and, if I can, to get a little bit more time management, and, hopefully, give myself a couple more hours a week to work on specific things just to improve a little bit more,” he said.