James Connew from smoker to elite CrossFit athlete

By Aroha Treacher

James Connew has endured a tough two days of competition, although he’s nursing a injured wrist he hasn’t let that get in the way on finals day, instead the hype has numbed the pain with a mix of emotions.

Connew says, “pretty excited, nervous a little bit, a little bit of pressure, but pressure’s just made up in my head”.

Three years ago it wasn’t the case. The 26-year-old admits exercise didn’t feature at all on his agenda, “So I was smoking for about five years, like a pack a day, 25 taileys,” says Connew. 

But after a health scare and some time in hospital it was the wakeup call he needed, now he's been named New Zealand’s fittest CrossFit athlete.

He says, “It's pretty crazy to think, I never would have thought that I would be here in this position contending for the top spot”.

Along with Connew in the individual events, Kevin Manuel will be competing in his fourth consecutive finals event at the regional level, “I'm just going to have to give it my all today. It's going to be hard work, but that's why we're here, to work hard, I can't wait”.

For first timer Luke Fiso, the experience of competing against the regions has been eye-opening but he's backing New Zealand all the way, “I really hope, James who’s sitting in the top five stays there, and I hope Kev finally gets to the games and does well and pushes through to the top five”.

All will be revealed later on tonight to see who deserves their spot at the CrossFit Games in Carson City in July. 

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