From ultra marathons to muay thai kickboxing, 60-year-old local athlete Paul Clinton has never shown apprehension when it comes to trying to new athletic ventures.
So when Clinton saw a CrossFit competition on television three years ago, it instantly peaked his interest.
“I started to stay in shape, and it turned out to be that I was pretty good at it once I started training really hard,” Clinton said in a phone interview.
Clinton nearly five months ago began his quest to qualify for the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games, a road including a five-week long open competition followed by a regional qualifier with a grueling set of exercises packed into only a handful of days.
Three years ago when Clinton joined Bellingham’s CrossFit X gym, a CrossFit Games berth rest far off in the distance, but the Masters Division competitor can now claim he’s one of the world’s top 20 fittest males 60 years or older.
Unfortunately, Clinton is rehabbing a herniated disc in his back and will be unable to contend for world’s fittest during the CrossFit Games held Tuesday-Sunday, July 21-26, in Carson, Calif., but the Whatcom County athlete will be there to relish in his accomplishment.
“The CrossFit Games are always an incredible spectacle,” CrossFit X owner Travis HoGlin wrote in a press release. “Paul has earned his chance to be there. He is truly an inspiring part of our community.”
Qualifying for the Games was a two-step process.
Clinton first competed in five workouts during a five-week period known as the Open Competition, trying to establish himself as one of the top 200 Masters athletes out of a field of 1,100. The top 200 advanced to Regionals, and the top 20 there earned CrossFit Games berths.
Clinton showed tremendous consistency throughout the Open Competition, finishing first among all athletes in a workout in which he completed 125 chin-ups and 125 overhead squats.
He took second among all competitors in a workout circuit consisting of jump rope double-unders, medicine ball tosses and squats and muscle-ups on rings.
“We had a ton of people do the open this year, and people were yelling and screaming,” Clinton said.
Clinton’s impressive performances during the Open Competition led to him to taking 20th at Regionals, which was the final spot advancing to the CrossFit Games. All workouts during the Open and Regional were performed at CrossFit X in front of trained judges.
To ensure legitimacy, video taken from at least one of Clinton’s Regional workouts had to be sent in for verification.
“Obviously, I was very happy,” said Clinton of when he learned he’d made the CrossFit Games. “I had looked at some of the results from the previous year, and I thought I would make it in 2016, so I was a year ahead of where I thought I’d be.”
Clinton is looking forward to meeting the other Masters competitors at this year’s CrossFit Games, and after rehab he’ll begin his quest to compete against them next summer.