BACK ON TOP

Smith earns second Fittest Teen title
Thursday, August 8, 2019
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On Day Two of the 2019 CrossFit Games, Chloe Smith swept the Sandbag Triplet, completing a 90-ft. handstand walk, 30 calories on an air bike and a 90-ft., 140-lb. sandbag carry in two minutes and 32.05 seconds.

But Smith didn’t run off the mat to greet supporters. Instead she went to the side of the last girl standing and cheered her on, pushing her to complete the event before the five-minute time cap.

“That’s what I would want someone to do for me,” she said. “If I’m struggling and I’m the last one on the field and people are watching me, I want someone to come over and encourage me.”

That’s the heart Smith, 17, used to claim her second Fittest Teen in the World title Aug. 4 in Madison, Wisconsin. It was bittersweet, however, because this was the last year she competed in the teen division.

“It was sad but it ended on a good note,” she said. “For the most part I felt more prepared than the last two years. I wasn’t as nervous that we would be given an event that I wouldn’t be able to do.”

Her trainer at CrossFit Unlimited Jennings (CFJ), Kimberly Vincent, said she felt there was nothing more she could do to prep the star athlete at least a month in advance of the competition.

“I had her running out of oxygen then seeing if she could still do muscle-ups, performing handstand walks when her core was maxed out, just seeing if she could still push through when it seemed she had nothing left,” Vincent said. “The preparation came from analyzing last year’s performance and the areas where she struggled.”

In 2018 when she first aged into the 16-17 girls division, Smith earned third place. The year before, during her first appearance at the Games, she took first in the group for girls ages 14-15.

Vincent knew Smith had a strong chance of taking the top spot this year. Still, she did not expect the teen to take first place in five of eight events, walking away with a 150-point lead.

“During the CrossFit Open and the online qualifier earlier this year, the other girls who made it to the Games were right on her tail,” Vincent said. “But Chloe didn’t slow down after she qualified for the Games. She used most of her time this summer to train.”

Smith also had ample time to train during her 2018-2019 junior year of high school. She is enrolled as a student at Iota High but is part of LSUE Academy at LSU Eunice. Her only time on a campus is spent in morning college classes while other courses can be handled online. On top of receiving her high school diploma next May, she will also receive an associate degree.

For her senior year, not much will change. Her college courses resume later this month and she planned to be back at CFJ Wednesday, ready to focus on another year of intense training.

“I was going to take this week off but I’m already bored,” she laughed. “My body needed a little break before I started working out like a crazy person again. I have another competition in a month so really, not much is changing in my life.”

In reality, change is on the horizon. Smith will continue her education after high school, and a full-time college schedule will cut down on training time. A 4.0 student with an ACT score of 30, she said she knows she will need to focus more on school one day. Plus, aging out of the teen division puts her into a pool of female athletes ages 18-34 who have years of training and competition under their belts.

Smith’s goal is to return to the Games at least one more year. Vincent said she believes a return is likely but may take time.

“She still has to get stronger, she still has work to do,” Vincent said. “You have to consider that she is now going against seasoned athletes, some who are 25 and at their prime. But she can do it, there is no doubt. Haley Adams, the champion for girls 16-17 last year, placed sixth in the world this year in her first time out as an adult.”

She knows Smith is ready to work even harder.

“It was a year of good, solid growth, not only in her performance but mentally as well,” Vincent said. “Three years ago she was so nervous, she wasn’t even herself at competitions and had a hard time even talking to people. Now she is confident. She’s comfortable in her own skin but she is still so humble and hardworking.”

The hard work means slacking in no areas. While Smith has struggled to conquer moves involving gymnastics and swimming, she has come a long way. The teen only learned to swim three years ago. This past year, she trained in the water under Brittany Talley.

“Brittany did an amazing job in helping Chloe become an efficient swimmer,” Vincent said. “We put Chloe in a few triathlons to give her an open-water experience surrounded by other swimmers. I also contacted people I knew who were involved in gymnastics to guide us in perfecting things like her handstand walk, something that really challenged her at last year’s Games.”

Tackling weaknesses is a given but Vincent expects Smith to make her best even better.

“Someone made the comment to her after a running event, ‘You look like you’re a runner,’” Vincent said. “And actually, she is. But she never stopped training for running just because it’s one of her strong areas. We worked on pace consistently. She’s not a natural in everything. She puts in work and is disciplined.”

Smith’s character and success are what continue to push Vincent to do right by the teen, she said. The feeling is mutual.

“Kim is the best,” Smith said. “She puts in so much time with me and she supports me no matter what.”

It’s also the support of her family, fellow CrossFitters and sponsors that keep her going.

“My family, of course, is always there for me, always,” she said. “And I don’t think the people I work out with every day realize they are my training partners. I’m usually working out by myself but doing the same workouts as the others. While they’re working hard, it encourages me to work harder, too.”

“It’s overwhelming the amount of support that is behind Chloe,” Vincent added. “It’s more than just people involved in CrossFit who cheer her on. People in the community who don’t even really know her or aren’t familiar with CrossFit just send so much support her way. When we were in Madison, the amount of texts and messages we received from people back home was incredible.”

As a trainer, the person who encourages Vincent most in this journey is Smith herself.

“And I don’t even know if she realizes just how much she means to people,” the trainer said.

Smith is back at the bar, training for another season. She did celebrate a little this week.

“I had pizza Sunday,” she laughed, as she normally sticks to a strict nutrition program. “Today I had ice cream. I think I earned it.”

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