Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr is the most decorated individual athlete in CrossFit Games history, winning the competition six times between 2017 and 2022.
This streak followed two second-place finishes in 2015 and 2016. So what changed to transform her from title contender to the most dominant force the sport has ever seen?
A segment in her new book, The Heart is the Strongest Muscle: How to Get from Great to Unstoppable, suggests the answer lies not in her physical training, but in an overhaul of her mindset.
If you watch the CrossFit Games documentaries, you’ll notice the difference in demeanor. In 2016’s edition, when a fan asks her for a photo ahead of the final day of competition Toomey-Orr replies, “you’ll probably want to delete that after today.”
Now compare that to what she told the documentary crew in 2022.
“I believe in everything I do, what I can do and what I’m capable of. I know and have full confidence that no matter what happens, I will stand up on top of that podium, no matter who I’m going up against.”
After earning a second consecutive silver at the 2016 Games, Toomey-Orr realized it was her mindset that was holding her back. So she made some wholesale changes with her husband and coach Shane Orr.
“We restructured our training program from head to toe,” Toomey-Orr writes. “We changed everything from our coach-athlete communication (such as more positive reinforcement), workout program (less volume but more intensity), and schedules (no more overcommitting). It was a full-throttled strategy for obtaining what I missed out on that year—first place.”
Part of this shift in mindset was Toomey-Orr’s adoption of the “American” way of winning after relocating to the States in 2018.
She says Americans are more vocal about winning, in a way her fellow Australians might perceive as arrogance and shut down with sarcasm. But Toomey-Orr found value in this attitude.
“I have definitely earned it now,” she writes. “And I think a piece of me has tried to adopt the ‘American’ way after all the years I have been immersed in its culture. Why? Because I have come to appreciate their approach to winning. There is no need to be apologetic for your talent or drive.”
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