“I think if I just limited myself to being an athlete I’d be doing a disservice to the other demographics that I represent. I’m a wrestler. I’m a former West Pointer. I’m an Army officer. All these different intersectionalities that are composed within me, and everyone has their own group of intersectionalities that they represent. That’s how you - if you want to create understanding about something that you do that’s outside of the gym - the CrossFit box is a great space for it, because again, of what you said. It’s not a responsibility, but it’s an opportunity that I think should be recognized and capitalized upon.”
- Chandler Smith
In 2012, Chandler Smith set a goal to qualify for the CrossFit Games by 2022. In 2019, he smashed that goal when he placed 15th at his rookie CrossFit Games appearance, and now he's set his sights on climbing up the leaderboard.
The path to becoming an elite CrossFit athlete hasn't always been straight-forward. As a child, Chandler had aspirations of following in his father's footsteps and playing for the NFL. But as a smaller athlete, in high school he decided to focus on wrestling, a sport better suited for his stature.
A lifelong interest in the Army led Chandler to attend West Point, where he would continue to compete as a wrestler and received the Warrior Athlete of Excellence Award in recognition of his mental toughness, coachability, perseverance, and athletic skill.
Following graduation, Chandler was commissioned as an officer and began work as a tank platoon leader. He had previously used CrossFit to help him train for wrestling, but now it became the primary focus for his athletic drive. In 2016, he made a splash onto the competitive scene when he qualified for the Atlantic Regional after finishing 7th in his region during his first complete CrossFit Open.
In 2017, an injury resulting in the loss of part of his ring finger cut his Open season short, and in 2018, a deployment to Bulgaria meant work took priority over training. When he returned to the States, Chandler resumed training with a single-minded focus, and a stellar performance at the 2019 Rogue Invitational earned him a ticket to the Games.
Today Chandler is a Captain in the United States Army as well as the officer in charge of the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness Team. In the lead up to the 2020 CrossFit Games, he's been training with athletes from all over the east coast in an effort to get out of his comfort zone and be as prepared as possible for whatever challenges lay in store.
When Chandler and I recently caught up, I was excited to hear what his 2020 training season has looked like, how his experiences in the Army have helped him grow as a competitor, and to hear his ideas on how CrossFit can improve it's diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In this episode we discuss:
- What Chandler’s training has looked like leading into the 2020 CrossFit Games
- His background and childhood, and how his parents and the Army have influenced him
- Factors that influenced Chandler to attend West Point
- How Chandler got into CrossFit
- The power of writing down your goals
- How Chandler’s success at the 2016 Regionals changed his approach to training
- His experience at the 2019 CrossFit Games
- Chandler’s role with the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness Team
- How COVID has impacted his 2020
- Chandler’s decision to sit out the 2020 CrossFit Games following Greg Glassman’s comments
- His experience at the CrossFit Community Summit and first interactions with Eric Roza
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within CrossFit
- Chandler's experience with being in the racial minority of CrossFit athletes
- The importance of being a good role model
- His former political aspirations
- #BHAW: Brotherhood, Heart, Attitude, Warrior
- Three things Chandler does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his health
- One thing he thinks could have a big impact on his health, but he has a hard time implementing
- What a healthy life looks like to Chandler
- Training Think Tank
- Chandler Smith Loses Tip of Ring Finger Over Weekend
- FanBoy Among Top Dogs
- CrossFit Games Regionals 2012 - Spencer Hendel Snatch Ladder
If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.
Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.