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#SeoulStrong

Photo from The CrossFit Games

Photo from The CrossFit Games

I looked up from my computer screen to survey the competition floor for the last heat for Event 6 of the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games Asia Regional in South Korea. My fingers were tense and hovering above my keyboard as I waited to see who would get up from the rower first.

Spotting the current leader on the Women’s leaderboard, Marlene Andersson, leaping up and moving to the box jumps, my fingers went to action. “Marlene Andersson is first off the rower!”, I typed furiously, “Followed close behind by Crystal Sullivan!”. As soon as I hit enter to post my tweet, my social media boss, Lynn hurriedly pointed out to me that Yuko Sakuyama was next off the rower.

No rest for the wicked. I realized I was holding my breath. I let it go and typed out what Lynn had pointed out to me, even as my eyes went back to survey the competition floor, looking for my next tweet.

Live tweeting is hard. Live tweeting without a live stream is harder.

Without a live stream, the onus was on the social media team to provide up to the minute play-by-play action on Twitter for the audience at home. Honestly, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. After all they were just moving weights and going through complex movements, right?

Boy, was I wrong.

I forgot there was only one reason why I was looking at the athletes down in front of me from my social media booth. Why they were here in the first place.

They were amazingly fast. Which meant that we had to be faster. Only God knows how much Lynn and Jen, the Regional Media Director, were screaming in their hearts for me to type faster when they were hovering over me during the Heats where I was covering the play-by-play action.

I had never tweet as fast as I did before that weekend and admittedly, it was stressful, but at the same time I was happy that I volunteered. I learned so much from Jen and Lynn, who both had amazing leadership throughout the whole weekend.

I was inspired by the athletes too. From my vantage point in the social media booth, I had a bird eye view of the whole arena. What I saw on all three days proved that Asia can hold its own amongst other bigger regions.

Granted, Asia is not where you get to see the likes of Rich Froning or Samantha Briggs compete. We still get made fun of for having caucasians on the podium. We only get one spot to the Games.

However, what Asia lacked in terms of super-human strength statistics and star names, the crowd made up for it in their never wavering and endearing support for the athletes. I witnessed the crowd cheering every rep for athletes, whether they were struggling or about to finish first. Who they came to support was immaterial. First or last, all the athletes taking part were already heroes in their mind.

The athletes too, had never-say-die attitudes.

I saw athletes like Jaki Kan from Team Asphodel, struggling with his overhead squats during Event 7 and yet refusing to give up. I saw the hours athletes put in to train their weakness finally paying off, like Eric Carmody, when he won Event 7 and qualified for Carson. They were just two of the many athletes who gave nothing but their all.

It was also very easy to not give your full effort as a volunteer when your region is an obscure region. This was my second surprise that weekend.

Starting with the media team, we hailed from 7 different nations and despite most of us meeting each other for the first time, we instantly gelled like glue. We were not paid, we had to be the first at the arena and the last to leave. But every task we were given, we did it with our full effort.

As for the rest of volunteers, from Security to the Judges to the Equipment guys, they worked as though this was their full-time job. I was very impressed especially with Security. They had a million and one things to do, from crowd control to making sure that no one brought in banned camera lenses. Yet, whenever the Media team had any issues with the crowd, they would drop everything and helped us.

All the volunteers were united for two reasons: We love CrossFit and we wanted the athletes to only worry about their performances on the competition floor and nothing else.

We decided beforehand that the hashtag for the 2014 Asia Regional would be #SeoulStrong. Amazingly, the hashtag has  887 posts and rising on Instagram.

I can’t help but marvel at how apt this hashtag has been. The story about the Asia Regional this past weekend was about teamwork and fluid coordination. Everyone, from the spectators, to the athletes, to the volunteers were a collective unit. We were, #SeoulStrong.

This article represents only my views and is not sanctioned or endorsed by The CrossFit Games and CrossFit,Inc

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